WINDHOEK -The end of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa as declared yesterday means the chances for Namibia to have a similar outbreak are nullified, according to the deputy director for public and environmental health in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Benson Ntomwa.
The Minister of Health in South Africa Aron Motsoaledi yesterday announced that no new cases of listeriosis had been recorded over the past three months in that country.
In March this year, a 41-year-old Namibian male was diagnosed with listeriosis but that did not constitute an outbreak.
Subsequently, food inspectors were instructed to remove products linked to listeriosis from shelves. The banned products were processed sausages including viennas, russians and frankfurters.
“We import food from South Africa so that means there are no chances for us to have an outbreak. The ban on canned food was lifted,” said Ntomwa.
Canned foods in Namibia go through sterilisation and sporadic tests were done on canned foods in the country.
“We did not detect that strain [of bacteria linked to outbreak in South Africa] in our food here,” added Ntomwa.
Furthermore, Ntomwa explained that microorganisms are very common in especially perishable food, more especially in meat but he emphasised that the strain that caused an outbreak was not detected in food here. “We are very stable on that one. There is no need to panic,” Ntomwa assured members of the public.
Health officials in South Africa announced in March they had traced the outbreak to an Enterprise Food plant, 300 kilometres (185 miles) northeast of Pretoria, and immediately ordered a nationwide recall of affected processed meat products.
Motsoaledi said it has not been established yet how the listeria emerged at the factory. At least 216 people died during the outbreak, according to the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
A total of 1,060 people contracted the disease, which is caused by bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces, which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat. WHO had said South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak was believed to be the largest-ever worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), listeriosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
Listeria monocytogenes are widely distributed in nature. They can be found in soil, water, vegetation and the faeces of some animals and can contaminate foods.
High-risk foods include deli meat and ready-to-eat meat products (such as cooked, cured and/or fermented meats and sausages), soft cheeses and cold smoked fishery products.
Pregnant women, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system, such as people with immuno-compromised status due to HIV/AIDS, leukaemia, cancer, kidney transplant and steroid therapy, are at greatest risk of severe listeriosis and should avoid high-risk foods.
Listeriosis is a serious, but preventable and treatable disease, according to the WHO.
2018-09-04 09:15:09 19 days ago