Team to prevent Listeriosis outbreak

Listeriosis - [Google Images]

In an effort to prevent future Listeriosis outbreaks, the National Department of Health (NDoH) has formed a multisectoral incident management team (IMT).

“The formation of a multisectoral incident management team, and development of a listeria emergency response plan will strengthen the response to the listeria outbreak, and contribute to health system strengthening to prevent future outbreaks. Funding is being sourced,” said the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in a situation report released on Monday.

According to the NICD, the number of cases of laboratory-confirmed Listeriosis reported per week has dropped since the implicated products were recalled on 04 March 2018, with eight additional cases reported this week.

“Of the eight cases reported this week, one case occurred in October 2017 and was retrospectively reported,” said the NICD.

In March, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that ready-to-eat cold meat products by Enterprise Foods were the culprits for the Listeriosis outbreak in the country.

While another facility, Rainbow Chicken Limited (RCL), tested positive for listeria, samples from this facility were not the same strain linked to the outbreak. The cause of the outbreak, strain ST6 was confirmed in 16 environmental samples collected from an Enterprise facility.

Processed meat products such as polony, viennas, russians, frankfurters, sausages and cold meat products were listed as no go zones by the Minister.

Since the recall, a total of 50 cases have been reported, twenty-four (48%) of which were among babies who are less than 28 days old. Three (6%) were among children age 1 month to 14 years old.

As of 17 April 2018, a total of 1019 laboratory-confirmed Listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD since 01 January 2017.

Since the 5 March 2018, cases per week dropped to fewer than 15 per week, with 8 cases reported in week 14. At the height of the outbreak, 30 or more cases were reported weekly.

Newborns with less than 28 days of age are the most affected age group on account of increased vulnerability of pregnant women followed by adults aged 15 – 49 years of age.

Gauteng is still leading the pack with the most recorded outbreaks with 59% of reported cases, followed by the Western Cape with 13% and KwaZulu-Natal with 7%.

Clinicians are requested to notify cases through the notifiable medical conditions (NMC) surveillance channels.

“NHLS and private clinical laboratories are requested to continue to send all listeria (spp) isolates to NICD to facilitate case monitoring and whole genome sequencing. All ‘ready to eat’ food processing factories are advised to review their processes, to ensure that their package products are safe for distribution and consumption by the public,” said the NICD.