Listeriosis Outbreak Traced to Enterprise Facility in Polokwane

Glen Mclaughlin
March 5, 2018

But it was the hospitalisation of a group of children in Soweto that provided the crucial breakthrough that led to the government identifying the Tiger Brands owned Enterprise as the source of the biggest outbreak the world has ever seen.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said authorities in charge‚ which most likely fall under local government‚ would need to shut the Enterprise Polokwane factory down. While we know that polony is definitely implicated, there is a risk of cross-contamination of other ready-to-eat processed meat products, either at production, distribution or retail.

"Enterprise and Rainbow supply a very broad range of retailers across South Africa".

Listeria on the exterior casing (packaging) can be transferred to other products such as "cold meat" items typically not cooked before eating.

Ironically, Polokwane means "Place of Safety".

"The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa said 12000 of its members had opened the doors to their facilities for health practitioners to carry out tests where necessary. The outbreak strain, ST6, was confirmed in at least 16 environmental samples collected from this Enterprise facility", he said. We await confirmation of the strain testing to confirm the strain.

The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has issued a recall of all products from the Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken Limited companies. Enterprise says it is cooperating fully. Pick n Pay, along with other supermarket chains, has acted swiftly to withdraw all products from Enterprise and RCL from its shelves.

This as panic over the killer disease grips the country following the revelation that products from an Enterprise Foods production facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, are the source of the listeriosis outbreak, which has resulted in 180 deaths. It can take up to 70 days after exposure for listeriosis symptoms to develop.

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It has led to at least 180 deaths and infected nearly 1‚000 people.

Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from stool collected from one of the ill children, and from both of the polony specimens collected from the crèche.

This particular strain of listeria monocytogenes that infected so many people is sequence-type 6 and is particularly "virulent".

Thomas explained that even though Rainbow Food's chicken polony factory in Sasolburg had tested positive for a different strain of listeria‚ there were patients who had also got sick from this strain. "However, such contamination of ready-to-eat processed meat products constitutes a health risk", said Motsoaledi. He told pregnant women to avoid any processed meat "like the plague".

Providing an update on the impact of the disease at a media briefing on Sunday, he said that as of 2 March 2018, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases had risen to 948 since January 2017.

According to the National Department of Health's "Clinical Guidelines on Management and Control of Foodborne Diseases" issued in 2011 an outbreak is defined as "two or more linked patients presenting with acute gastrointestinal, neurological, hepatic or hemorrhagic manifestation after having a shared/common meal/beverage during the past 72 hours".

The death toll stood at 172 as recently as February 22.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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