Zim on High Alert as Listeriosis Outbreak Claims 164 in SA

Zimbabwe is on high alert following the outbreak of listeriosis in neighboring South Africa which claimed the lives of 164 people.

Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary, Dr Gerald Gwinji on Monday confirmed the outbreak of the listeriosis in South Africa though he calmed fears that it could have spread in Zimbabwe due to robust trade between the two countries.

“Indeed there is an outbreak of listeriosis and so far 164 people are reported to have died and 43% of these are children less than a month. This outbreak is significant to us because we import some of the food items particularly cold processed foods into Zimbabwe,

“Interestingly listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria survives in refrigeration and hence can thrive and reproduce in refrigerated foods; however as a country we have tightened our food surveillance at the borders in terms of such products coming in from South Africa,

“We are still to establish the exact batches that are involved but in the interim we have alerted our border posts to be alert to importation of such products,” said Gwinji.

Customers who go to South Africa have been encouraged to pay particular attention to the foods from a company called Enterprise Tiger Brands.

When one is affected the disease takes a few days to weeks to start showing to those affected. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with suppressed immune system are at risk of getting the disease.

Signs and symptoms are diarrhea, high fever (38 degrees), headache, Muscle pain, High mortality rate and complications such as septicemia and meningitis.

Listeriosis is a rare food-borne disease found in 10 cases per 1 million people in the spread from consumption of foods that are contaminated by the bacteria.

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