Today’s Listeriosis news wrap: Listeriosis deaths hit 189, class action launched, WHO weighs in

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced on Thursday [29 March] that the death toll in the listeriosis outbreak has climbed to 189 – six more deaths from its last update.

It also announced that there were now 982 confirmed cases of the deadly disease‚ with outcomes known in 687 of these. The mortality rate is now 28%.

A nationwide recall of affected food products – which has been traced back to ready-to-eat processed meat products manufactured at Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility – was announced on March 4.

However‚ as it had previously warned there would be‚ the NICD said more new cases of listeriosis had been confirmed since the recall. In total‚ there had been 23 laboratory-confirmed cases since March 4 – but all exposures occurred prior to the recall.

The institute said that the reasons for the post-recall new cases were that:

  • the incubation period of listeriosis can be up to 70 days
  • implicated food products have a long refrigeration shelf life‚ and it is possible that despite the recall some products were not removed from retail or home settings and consumption might occur; and
  • the possibility of cross-contamination of other types of foods in the retail or home setting may result in additional cases.

“As of March 26‚ 2018‚ a total of 982 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD since January 1‚ 2017. Most cases have been reported from Gauteng (576 cases) followed by Western Cape (121) and KwaZulu-Natal (71)‚” the NICD said in an update posted on its website.

Primary source of listeriosis remains unknown, say multiple govt departments

Polony and other ready-to-eat (RTE) processed meat manufacturers, who have been desperately attempting to distance themselves from the Enterprise and Rainbow products recalled due to listeria contamination, were left reeling on Wednesday by the news that the primary source of the listeriosis outbreak remains unknown.

The DA claimed that at a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday‚ the Departments of Health‚ Trade and Industry‚ and Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries admitted that although traces of listeria were found at both the Enterprise and RCL’s Rainbow chicken polony facilities‚ they were not the primary sources of the outbreak.

“It is now apparent that the government … has opted for prematurely scapegoating Enterprise and Rainbow because it does not have proper emergency plans in place to contain this outbreak‚” the DA said in a statement.

Asked to comment‚ food safety expert Dr Lucia Anelich said she was unsure what was meant by “primary source” of the outbreak. “We know that the outbreak strain of listeria‚ ST6‚ was found in the Enterprise plant‚ but it’s true that we don’t know its origin.”…. Read the full article