Listeriosis Outbreak

11 September 2018


On 5 December 2017 we announced that South Africa was hit by the outbreak of listeriosis. A joint Public health emergency Co-ordinating committee was to co-ordinate investigations and response.

Subsequent to this recall, 05 April 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) increased its technical support to South Africa to enable the country to contain the outbreak and to strengthen health systems to prevent future outbreaks.

On the same day (5 April 2018), the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Disease NICD, supported by World Health Organisation, drew up an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to control and end the outbreak, and to strengthen systems to prevent further listeriosis outbreaks.

A team of WHO, International and local experts agreed that

1.because no cases of listeriosis due to the outbreak strain have been identified since thefirst week of June 2018and that

2.over the last two months, the incidence rate of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases has dropped to pre-outbreak levels,

Therefore, the outbreak oflisteriosis is over.

Positive spin-offs of this Listeriosis outbreak

·As a country, and with the technical support of the World Health Organisation, we have put in place a surveillance system to find and test all Listeria isolates from human cases to identify clusters (groups) of cases that may represent outbreaks.

·Food safety laws have been updated. All factories that make ready-to-eat processed meat and chicken need to have food safety management systems in place.

Today’s announcement means that ready-to-eat processed meat can now be safely consumed, as before the outbreak. This does not mean that people will no longer suffer from listeriosis – remember, Listeriosis has occurred in South Africa for the past 40 years.

People are encouraged to practice good food safety including:

1.Keep clean including good hand hygiene practices

2.Separate raw and cooked food

3.Cook food thoroughly

4.Keep food at safe temperatures

5.Use safe water and raw materials

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