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Widespread Outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa

24 Jan 2018

Media quoting local government in Johannesburg report that Listeria has been found in a food outlet in the city. It is unclear whether this is connected to a major outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa where there have been 764 cases and 19 deaths.  Two hundred and twelve of the cases and all of the deaths have been in Johannesburg.

The source of the infection is unclear but like to be a widely-used food item.

Advice to Travellers

Listeriosis is usually self limiting but can be a serious disease and is especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants, elderly people, transplant patients, people with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions. Anyone in these groups who may be infected should seek medical attention. Symptoms include: fever, myalgia and arthralgia, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea.

Food should be chosen that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot. Meat and vegetables should be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible. Fruit should be peeled.

Avoid the following:

  • Leftovers and reheated meat
  • Ready-to-eat cooked meats and sausage
  • Pâté or meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized milk and dairy products e.g. soft cheese.
  • Refrigerated uncooked seafood
  • Raw vegetables or salad
  • Contact with infected people eg through food handling
  • Contact with infected animals

See Food and Water Precautions.