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Polony Listeria Outbreak Rises Again

March 14 update: 978 Sick, 183 Deaths

According to the Minister of Public Health, Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi:


March 14, 2018 update of listeria Outbreak from the Centre for Enteric Diseases (CED) and Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Outbreak Response Unit (ORU), National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS).

A total of 978 cases has been reported since 2017. Since the last situational update (8 March 2018), 11 additional cases have been reported to the NICD.

Cases of listeriosis will continue to occur up to four weeks or longer after the recall of the implicated foodstuffs, as the incubation period for listeriosis can be as long as 21 days with a reported maximum of 70 days.

Outcome at the end of hospitalization is known for an additional 5 cases, bringing the total with known outcome to 674/978 (69%) patients. No additional deaths have been reported since the last situation update (8 March). Presently, 183/674 (27%) patients are known to have died.

Health care workers are urged to continue with vigilance for new cases as persons who have consumed implicated processed meat products over the past few weeks may continue to present with listeriosis.

As of 12 March 2018, 978 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD from all provinces since 01 January 2017. To date, 748 cases were reported in 2017, and 230 cases in 2018. Females account for 56% (532/948) cases where gender is reported. Where age was reported (n=946), ages range from birth to 92 years (median 19 years) and 42% (398/950) are neonates aged ≤28 days. Of neonatal cases, 96% (381/398) had early-onset disease (birth to ≤6 days). Most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59%, 581/981) followed by Western Cape (12%, 118/967) and KwaZulu-Natal (7%, 70/967) provinces. Cases have been diagnosed in both public (65%, 639/981) and private (35%, 342/981) healthcare sectors. Amongst 978 cases, 720 (73%) specimens that were positive for Listeria monocytogenes on blood culture, while 211 (22%) were positive on cerebrospinal fluid. 71/981 (7%) specimens were positive from a variety of other sites (stool, pus, abscess or other fluid). Four public sector patients had positive PCR test for Listeria monocytogenes, but these patients also had a positive culture.

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