The listeriosis outbreak in South Africa: what have we learnt?

Posted: 21 November 2018 | | No comments yet

When the Minister of Health announced at the end of last year that South Africa was in the midst of a listeriosis outbreak, the source was still unknown and the country ill-prepared for such a devastating crisis. In the first of a two-part feature, Dr Lucia Anelich shares her expert perspective.

The largest documented listeriosis outbreak in history is over.
The South African Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, made this announcement at a press conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 3 September 2018. The outbreak officially resulted in 1,065 confirmed cases and 218 deaths and was first announced publicly on 5 December 2017, by which time 550 cases and 36 deaths were already confirmed. In March 2018, the Minister of Health declared that the source of the outbreak originated at a specific processed meat manufacturing facility. There then followed chaos for all involved, including producers, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers, consumers and laboratories, as well as various national authorities. Consumers refused to eat any products associated with the specific brand and other non-implicated brands that resembled any cooked, frozen or raw processed meats, or any products that contained similar ingredients. As a result, tons of processed meat products were returned to manufacturers and retailers. 

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