By Ntsiki Ntsibande
South Africa’s Listeria outbreak is believed to be the largest-ever outbreak of the bacterial disease listeriosis, claiming 180 lives to date.
Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Sunday that the outbreak was traced to Enterprise’s Polokwane facility and Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State.
He also stated that further tests were needed as the sequence type was not yet known.
Motsoaledi had also confirmed that polony was a definite carrier of the disease, warning that products like Viennas, Russians, Frankfurters, other sausages and cold meats could also be affected due to the risk of cross contamination.
The disease was traced after several children presented with gastroenteritis in Soweto earlier in the week. It was found through test that they had listeriosis.
Latest stats from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) show that 948 cases detected and 180 deaths have been reported.
Listeriosis caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes can contaminate animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables. Pregnant women, neonates, elderly people and anyone with weakened systems are at risk.
Members of the public have been advised to get rid of any Enterprise ready-to-eat products. Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay indicated they are withdrawing all products linked to the source of the disease.
Tiger Brands confirmed that all Enterprise products, as identified, will be recalled.
“We are working very closely with the officials at present to conduct the process and will provide updates to the public on this matter,” said spokesperson Nevashnee Naicker in a statement.
Motsoaledi includes that the Enterprise facility in Germiston on the East Rand, and Rainbow chicken facility in the Free State has been singled out pending for more tests to determine the sequence type.
Additional reporting: News24