Infectious Diseases 2018

Infectious Diseases 2018

South Africa traces deadly listeria outbreak to meat product

5 March, 2018

Listeria bacteria was found at two Enterprise processed meat factories and one Rainbow Chicken polony factory in the Free State. Following the lead from tests performed on nine children under the age of 5 years presented to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital with febrile gastro-enteritis and the food they had ingested, the EHPs (Environmental Health Practitioners), together with the NICD and DAFF representatives, accompanied by 3 technical advisors from the World Health Organisation in Geneva, visited a food-production site in Polokwane and conducted an extensive food product and environmental sampling. Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from over 30% of the environmental samples collected from this site, which happens to be the Enterprise factory in Polokwane. Whole genome sequencing analysis was performed from this Enterprise factory. The outbreak strain, ST6, was confirmed in at least 16 environmental samples collected from this Enterprise facility. The conclusion from this is that the source of the present outbreak can be confirmed to be the enterprise food-production facility in Polokwane.
Additionally, preliminary results show that several ready-to-eat processed meat products from the Enterprise facility located in Germiston contain L. monocytogenes, but the sequence type is not known as yet.
Investigation of the RCL Wolwehoek production facility is also underway. Polony products have tested positive for L. monocytogenes, but the sequence types of the isolates are NOT ST6. However, such contamination of ready-to-eat processed meat products constitutes a health risk. Also, over 10% of environmental samples at this facility have tested positive for L. monocytogenes. The sequence types of these isolates are not known as yet.
The National Consumer Commission has issued safety recall notices to those manufacturers and facilities, and the companies are now responsible for coming up with the recall plan. Statistics on March 2 show that the outbreak has claimed about 180 lives and 948 laboratory-confirmed cases.