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South Africa: Listeria outbreak just started, will infect region

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Staff Writer | March 17, 2018
South Africa listeria outbreak
Africa   Low-priced processed meats

The worst listeria outbreak on record is only in its early stages and will likely infect more people in South Africa and the region, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

The infection which can hit the blood system and brain has killed 180 people in South Africa since January last year. Neighbouring Namibia reported its first case on Tuesday and said the victim was fighting for his life in hospital.

"We are just at the beginning and we must expect other cases to emerge," Motsoaledi told reporters after meeting health ministers from across the region.

He said he was expecting more cases to be reported across southern Africa, without elaborating.

The government has linked the outbreak to "polony" - low-priced processed meats that are mostly consumed by the poor.

South African food producer Tiger Brands, which makes polony, said on Friday a department of health report had confirmed the presence of the LST6 listeria strain its factory in the northern city of Polokwane.

Authorities are also investigating a plant owned by RCL Foods that makes a similar sausage product, though they have not reported any discoveries of listeria.


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