21 February 2018

South Africa: Listeriosis - Crisis As Death Toll Rises

On Monday the Gauteng Department of Environmental Affairs kicked off an awareness campaign on potentially fatal listeriosis. But the death toll is rising as more stringent measures are yet to be implemented.

The death toll from listeriosis has risen to 164, with nearly 900 documented cases in laboratories and half the fatalities being infants under a year old. Yet the disease remains poorly understood and officials have yet to implement set guidelines for its prevention and handling.

"There is ongoing surveillance to determine the cause of the outbreak," said Gauteng MMC for Environmental Affairs, Dr Mpho Phalatse, as the Gauteng Department of Environmental Affairs kicked off an awareness campaign at the Bara Taxi Rank in Soweto on Monday.

Gauteng has been the province hardest hit by the disease. Twenty-six lives have been claimed in Johannesburg and 28 in Tshwane.

The causes of the listeriosis outbreak remain unknown, and Phalatse said a lack of awareness had contributed to the number of deaths to date.

"People don't know what to do," she said.

Further, she added, it remained difficult to perform a conclusive diagnosis. Further analysis was still necessary in order to provide a deeper understanding of the...

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