South Africa declares end of listeria outbreak

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The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) was pivotal in assisting with their emergency response plan to control and end the outbreak as well as strengthen systems to prevent further Listeriosis outbreaks.

The overall response to listeria and the testing of every factory cost R12-million‚ said health director-general Precious Matsoso.

The Minister said that at the beginning of the outbreak scientists said that it would be hard to find the source but they managed to trace it. However, about 10 percent of outbreak victims were infected with one of at least 19 different strains of Listeria.

The health minister initially warned about the outbreak in December a year ago when the deadly listeria bacteria killed almost 40 people mostly from Gauteng.

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The breakthrough came when, on 12 January, nine children under the age of five from a crèche in Soweto were taken to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital and a paediatrician suspected a foodborne disease, possibly listeriosis.

While the department has identified an Enterprise Foods facility in Polokwane as the source of the outbreak, the cause of the listeria bacteria is still unknown. The plant would remain closed, Motsoaledi said on Monday.

The outbreak was then traced to the Enterprise Factory in Polokwane in March and ready to eat processed foods were pulled off the shelves across the country.

An investigation of the Rainbow Chicken Wolwehoek production facility was also done after polony products tested positive for listeria monocytogenes, but they were not the ST6 strain.

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The price of polony has recovered, but is still down since it was directly linked to the deadly listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

"Therefore, the conclusion is that the outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa is over". This is why health officials have declared the outbreak officially over.

Briefing the media at a press conference earlier today, Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the Listeriosis outbreak is over in South Africa.

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