The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) says it will henceforth refuse import permit for any intending importer of meat into the country following the outbreak of ‘Listeria disease’ in South Africa.
Listeria is a genus of bacteria and the major human pathogen in the Listeria genus is monocytogenes.
Dr Vincent Isegbe, the Coordinating Director of NAQS, told News men in Abuja , that the service would also confiscate any illegally imported meat into the country.
According to him, we are on the watch, especially on the public health challenges which Listeria can pose.
‘‘No one intending to import meat can get the import permit and any illegal importation of meat shall be confiscated by Quarantine. That is the law.
‘‘In the 2017 budget being implemented, we have so many surveys in place to ensure food safety, especially of exportable agro-commodities,’’ Isegbe said.
Listeria is usually the causative agent of the relatively rare bacterial disease listeriosis, an infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria.
The disease primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns.
A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, often preceded by diarrhea or other gastro-intestinal symptoms.
South Africa’s health ministry has warned consumers to avoid ‘‘all processed meat products that are sold as ready-to-eat’’ after tracing the source of deadly listeria outbreak to a sausage meat product.
The South African Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, said in his remarks published on the website of South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases, that as at March 2, a total of laboratory-confirmed cases have risen to 948.
Motsoaledi said that a total of 659 patients out of the 948 had been traced and 180 of them had died.
Several South African neighbours including Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana and Zambia had ordered the suspension of importation of processed meat into their countries.