South Africa says it has finally traced the source of a listeria outbreak that has killed 180 people in the past year – said to make it the worst in history.
The source is a factory operated by Enterprise Foods in Polokwane in Limpopo where sausage meat product known as “polony” is made
In a statement on posted to its Twitter account, Enterprise said it was working with all relevant authorities to recall its products.
“We have suspended operations at both Enterprise manufacturing facilities (Polokwane and Germiston) and have stopped supply to retailers,” the company said.
“As of 02 March 2018, a total of laboratory-confirmed cases have risen to 948, still counting from January 2017,” Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said Sunday in remarks published on the website for South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases. “Of these 948, a total 659 patients have been traced and 180 of them have unfortunately died.”
The health minister warned cross-contamination of other processed meats could have occurred in shops.
“Avoid all processed meat products that are sold as ready to eat‚” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told journalists at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Sunday afternoon.
He told pregnant women to avoid any processed meat “like the plague”, reported Times Live.
In some people the disease causes high temperatures, vomiting and diarrhoea, and the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and babies – both in the womb and newborn – are particularly vulnerable.
What is listeriosis?
- It can be caught from food containing listeria bacteria, or close contact with farm animals
- Cases usually involve unpasteurised milk or dairy products, such as camembert and brie
- Pre-packed foods, including sandwiches and paté, can also contain listeria
- Symptoms include high temperature, flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Most people infected display no symptoms, but elderly and very young people are vulnerable.