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Government raises alarm on listeriosis outbreak

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The Ministry of Health has pressed the panic button after the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report of an outbreak of a disease called listeriosis in South Africa.
Listeriosis is a serious but treatable and preventable disease caused by a bacterium called listeria monocytogenes.
South Africa has registered over 700 cases of the disease and WHO puts the death toll at over 60. Many Malawians travel to South Africa for business purposes.
In a statement released yesterday, Ministry of Health spokesperson, Joshua Malango, said the ministry is monitoring the situation in South Africa and will continue giving regular updates to the public.
“The ministry is calling upon all Malawians to practise WHO’s “Five Keys to Safer Food” programme that includes washing hands before and after eating, during food preparation (keeping clean); separating raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods; cooking foods thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood; keeping food at safe temperatures; and using safe water and raw materials,” Malango said.
He said the ministry, through the Food Safety Section in Environmental Health Services in collaboration with other relevant ministries, departments, Food and Agriculture Organisation and WHO initiated several meetings and activities on food safety.
“The first meeting was on November 21 2017. The aim is to strengthen food safety activities, such as food inspection, which are key to prevention of diseases such as listeriosis,” he said.
The bacteria which causes listeriosis is mostly found in soil and water.
The disease primarily affects risk groups such as the elderly, immune-compromised persons, pregnant women and newborns and is contracted through consumption of contaminated foods such as meat, dairy and milk products, fruits, vegetables and ready to eat food.
The symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle pain, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.
Pregnant women typically experience mild flu-like illness and infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life threatening infection of the newborn.

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