Health min­is­ter’s ad­vice on Lis­te­rio­sis

African Times - - News - BUKUTA NKUNA

HEALTH Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Mot­soaledi has made it clear that au­thor­i­ties were pre­pared pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, data and ad­vise to fam­i­lies who wish to lit­i­gate fol­low­ing the out­break of the deadly Lis­te­rio­sis.

In Lim­popo, 48 cases of Lis­te­rio­sis have so far been re­ported with nine deaths recorded. Al­most 34 of the cases were picked up from pri­vate hos­pi­tals whilst the other 14 were from the public sec­tor.

Ad­dress­ing the Lim­popo Leg­is­la­ture this week, Mot­soaledi blamed the slow co­op­er­a­tion be­tween pri­vate lab­o­ra­to­ries and the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases (NICD) as the cause of the de­lay in de­tect­ing the un­prece­dented out­break of the deadly dis­ease which has so far killed 180 peo­ple across the coun­try.

Mot­soaledi said the NICD could not gain di­rect ac­cess to tests re­sults from pri­vate lab­o­ra­to­ries: “The prob­lem was en­coun­tered with pri­vate lab­o­ra­to­ries be­cause they are not part of the NHLS (Na­tional Health Lab­o­ra­tory Ser­vice) and hence NICD has no di­rect ac­cess to their data. Their in­for­ma­tion started trick­ling in only by Septem­ber 2017, es­pe­cially data from 2013 which they did not nec­es­sar­ily keep at hand be­cause they were not obliged to no­tify.”

He said doc­tors from neona­tal units at Chris Hani Barag­wanath and Steve Biko Aca­demic Hos­pi­tals alerted the NICD about un­usu­ally high num­bers of ba­bies with Lis­te­rio­sis, which they were not re­ally used to see­ing.

“Be­cause there is no no­ti­fi­a­bil­ity data to make a con­clu­sion, NICD started gath­er­ing data. They con­tacted all lab­o­ra­to­ries in our net­work of about 265 public lab­o­ra­to­ries un­der the NHLS. This was easy be­cause the NICD is part of the NHLS and hence has ac­cess to all the data of the NHLS. By Novem­ber 2017, the NICD had col­lated data that showed 557 lab­o­ra­tory-con­firmed Lis­te­rio­sis cases, which have been re­ported from all prov­inces,”he said.

Mot­soaledi re­vealed that the num­ber of lab­o­ra­tory-con­firmed cases had reached 948 by 2 March, of which 659 pa­tients were traced and out of which 180 of them had died.

Ex­plain­ing the dis­ease was traced to ready-to-eat pro­cessed meat prod­ucts such as polony, sausages, vi­en­nas and other cold meats, Mot­soaledi said: “While the search was con­tin­u­ing in the var­i­ous en­ti­ties along the foof-chain, on Fri­day 12 Jan­uary 2018, nine chil­dren un­der the age of 5 pre­sented to Chris Hani Bara Hospi­tal with febrile gas­troen­teri­tis, i.e fever, di­ar­rhoea, vom­it­ing, stom­ach-aches. Lis­te­ria was iso­lated from stools of one of them.

“En­vi­ron­men­tal health prac­ti­tion­ers were dis­patched to a crech in Soweto where the kids came from. The kids had eaten polony from En­ter­prise and chicken sausage from Rain­bow Foods in Sa­sol­burg. Teams then rushed to En­ter­prise in Polok­wane and Rain­bow in Sa­sol. Lis­te­ria was found in both.”

Mot­soaledi warned that the re­call of the prod­ucts does not mean members of the public must stop obey­ing gen­eral food hy­giene rules.

“The re­call does not mean that members of the public must now re­lax and stop obey­ing gen­eral food hy­giene rules. For those who might not have heard about them, there are five food safety rules which members of the public must obey all the time, but es­pe­cially dur­ing an out­break of a food­borne dis­ease as we have now,” he said.

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