Gauteng intensifies battle against Listeriosis

The Gauteng government says it will leave no stone unturned to fight Listeriosis, as the province carries the highest burden of the diseases in the country.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that Listeriosis cases have now risen to 872 nationwide since the beginning of 2017. The diseases has claimed 164 lives. According to the NICD, Gauteng leads the pack with 60% of the confirmed cases, followed by the Western Cape with 13% and KwaZulu-Natal at 7%.

The Gauteng Economic Development and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development MEC, Lebogang Maile, says his department will leave no stone unturned to fight Listeriosis.

The findings are quite worrying and disturbing and this requires our Veterinary Services to be vigilant at facilities that fall within their scope and play their part in containing the spread of this bacterium in the province, said the MEC.

Listeriosis is a rare infection mainly caused by eating food contaminated with a specific bacterium which is found in soil, water and vegetation. It can be treated if found on time and can be prevented if good hygiene is practised.

MEC Maile said a team from his department has devised a comprehensive strategy for the province, working in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders and affected parties.

To date, the department has taken samples from all active abattoirs in Gauteng and where necessary, deep cleaning has been instituted. The report from our Veterinary Services shows that we have the situation well under control. We urge everybody to support our initiatives, said MEC Maile.

The MEC urged Gauteng residents to adhere to basic food hygiene principles, as outlined in the World Health Organisation’s ‘Five Keys to Safer Food’ programme.

The core commandments of food hygiene are:

1. Keep clean: wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation.

2. Separate raw and cooked: separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods.

3. Cook thoroughly: cook foods thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.

4. Keep food at safe temperatures: refrigerate and reheat foods correctly.

5. Use safe water and raw materials: use safe water or make it safe (by boiling). Choose foods processed for safety such as pasteurised dairy products. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially if eaten raw.

The five keys of prevention and tips to deal with Listeriosis are also listed on the Department of Health’s website on (www.health.gov.za).

The [Gauteng Agriculture Department] is working with other relevant stakeholders to monitor and coordinate the outbreak response plan, said MEC Maile.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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