The Herald (South Africa)

Listeriosi­s hard to f ight, health MEC admits


GAUTENG Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has admitted that it is proving difficult for the provincial government to manage the spread of listeriosi­s in the province.

Ramokgopa presented a report to the Gauteng portfolio committee on health yesterday detailing active plans to deal with the spread of the bacteria.

She told the committee that a number of teams had been set up guided by specialist­s and experts from the National Institute for Communicab­le Diseases (NICD) and World Health Organisati­on to deal with the spread of listeriosi­s.

Ramokgopa admitted it had been hard trying to contain the spread of the disease.

“It is not as easy as management of a measles outbreak, which we know and are able to contain within a limited period of time.

“But this one has been really difficult and that is why we are working with the agricultur­e sector to make sure that there are no possible areas of risk and infection.

“Gauteng is also heavily affected because of the fact that it is a referral centre‚” she said.

The disease broke out in early December. Last week‚ the death toll from the outbreak topped 100 – the worst documented listeriosi­s outbreak in global history.

The NICD announced that the number of confirmed listeriosi­s cases was now 852, and 107 people had died.

Of those confirmed cases‚ 42% were babies less than a month old‚ pregnant women being 20 times more likely to contract the disease than other healthy adults.

And still the source of the outbreak – thought to be a food product or range of products from one company – remains unknown.

Most of the cases – 59% – have been reported in Gauteng‚ with 13% of cases in the Western Cape and 7% in KwaZulu-Natal.

About two-thirds of cases were confirmed in state hospitals and a third in private hospitals. – Penwell Dlamini

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