Date: 13 April 2018 By: Andries van Zyl
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) last week stated that the outbreak-related cases of listeriosis will continue to be reported, despite the source of the outbreak being identified as ready-to-eat processed meat products manufactured at Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility.
After identifying the source of the outbreak, the Department of Health issued a recall of all implicated Enterprise products. In their latest situation report on the outbreak, dated 6 April, the NICD, however, indicated that more cases will be reported due to several reasons.
Among the reasons listed is the fact that the incubation period of listeriosis can be up to 70 days. “The implicated food products [also] have a long refrigeration shelf life, and it is possible that despite the recall some products were not removed from retail/home settings, and consumption might occur,” said the NICD in the report. The report added that the possibility of cross-contamination of other types of foods in the retail or home setting may also result in additional cases.
According to the NICD, a total of 37 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported since the recall on 4 March. “The number of laboratory-confirmed cases per week are declining since the recall,” said the NICD. Of the 37 cases, 19 patients were interviewed of which 13 reported eating polony in the month prior to falling ill.
As at 3 April this year, a total of 999 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases had been reported to NICD since 1 January 2017. “Outcome data is now available for 69% (689/999) of cases, of which 28% (191/689) died,” said the NICD.
Where age was reported (973 of the cases), ages range from birth to 93 years (median 18 years) and 42% (412/973) are neonates aged 28 days and younger. Of neonatal cases, 96% (396/412) had early-onset disease (birth up to six days). Females account for 56% (542/967) of cases where gender was reported, and most cases have been reported from Gauteng Province (59% - 586/999) followed by Western Cape (12% - 123/999) and KwaZulu-Natal (7% - 72/999) provinces.
According to the NICD, cases have been diagnosed in both public (64% - 644/999) and private (36% - 355/999) healthcare sectors. “A total of 547 clinical Listeria monocytogenes isolates have undergone whole genome sequencing since 1 January 2017. Of these, 92% (502/547) are the sequence type 6 (ST6) outbreak strain,” said the NICD.
Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.