SA on alert: What you should know about the deadly Listeriosis outbreak

On Tuesday morning Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that more than 30 people have died following an outbreak of Listeriosis.

Approximately 557 cases have been reported, with the majority occurring in Gauteng province. He said they had traced 70 patients, of whom 36 died.

What is Listeriosis?

According to Food Safety Listeria is bacteria found in soil, water and vegetation. It’s can also occur in some animals, including poultry and cattle. Raw milks and foods made from raw milk can also carry the bacteria.


People should seek medical attention if they experience the following symptoms:
A stiff neck
General weakness
Vomiting (sometimes preceded by diarrhoea)

The majority of people infected by listeria recover within seven days. However, those with a compromised immune system, older adults, infants or pregnant women require urgent medical care – treatment involves either a course of antibiotics or fluids through an IV drip.

The treatment of listeriosis is usually symptomatic and depends on the severity of the disease. If your infection is severe, antibiotics may be recommended.

Home remedies include:

Plenty of clear fluids such as water and tea
The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast) and other bland foods that won’t irritate the stomach
Bed rest


Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk. Also, be careful of foods that contain raw milk.
Practice good hygiene in the kitchen. Wash your hands regularly, and make sure cutting boards, cutlery and crockery are cleaned properly.
Thoroughly cook animal foods such as meat, poultry or fish. Rather overcook than undercook.
Keep an eye on the expiry dates of perishable foods. Consume as soon as possible.