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Listeriosis cases dropping, facilities screening implemented – NICD

Fewer than five listeriosis cases per week have been reported for the last four weeks‚ The Times reports the National Listeria Incident Management Team said in its latest outbreak situation report. A total of 1‚053 confirmed cases have been reported from 1 January 2017 to 20 June 2018.

The experts said the number of reported cases per week has decreased since the implicated products were recalled on 4 March 2018 – a total of 78 cases have been reported since 5 March.

The team said a strategy for listeriosis screening by district environmental health practitioners has been agreed on and became effective from 25 June. Approximately 190 food processing facilities that manufacture processed meat have been identified across the country. “Incident management team members have been dispatched to various provinces to support the districts to conduct inspections and take environmental swabs‚” the experts said.

The report says the latest update from the team of experts confirmed that inspections of all facilities that produce ready-to-eat processed meat products were under way. Since 18 June‚ more than 25 facilities have been inspected.

“An interim report on project activities is being finalised‚” the team said. “A meeting of epidemiologists and laboratorians … is being convened at the end of June to ascertain the trajectory of the outbreak and make recommendations regarding further actions.”

 

Of the 78 people who got listeriosis‚ two out of three of those interviewed have revealed that they ate polony. And brands manufactured by Enterprise Foods were most commonly reported to have been consumed‚ “where brand of polony was known”‚ according to the latest National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) report.

The Times reports that it puts the number of confirmed cases of listeriosis at 1‚053‚ with 212 deaths – fewer than five cases a week have been reported for the last four weeks‚ consistent with the dramatic drop in confirmed cases since the outbreak source was announced.

More listeriosis cases are expected‚ despite it being almost four months since the recall of implicated processed meats‚ mainly because the products have a long shelf life and‚ as the NICD put it‚ “it is possible that despite the recall some products have not been removed from retail or consumers’ homes”. Also‚ the report says, the Listeria-contaminated products could have contaminated other products in stores and homes.

The NICD report also reveals that health authorities are inspecting and taking swabs from the 190 facilities manufacturing processed meat operating across the country. At the time of the recall in early March‚ Enterprise Foods had a 35.7% market share in South Africa’s processed meats industry‚ making it the largest producer of processed meats.

Sales of polony and viennas are reported to have dropped by 70% since March‚ while that of other processed meats are down by 50%.

Meanwhile‚ a mountain of recalled products is still being destroyed. The report says faced with having to get rid of 3‚667 tons processed meat, the Environmental Affairs Department (DEA) officials had to get creative.

Pressed to elaborate on the means of destruction‚ a DEA official is quoted in the report as saying: “The products have either been sent for treatment at a healthcare risk waste treatment facility or a cement manufacturing facility‚ or for controlled disposal at a Class A (hazardous) landfill site.”

So, it’s been fed into cement-making kilns‚ to be thermally destroyed at high temperatures. “But it does not go into the cement mix‚” DEA spokesperson Albi Modise clarified. In short‚ the meat is either burnt or buried. “Special measures and processes are undertaken in this regard to ensure safe disposal so that the material will not further contaminate‚” Modise said.

Follow-up questions about that cement factory went unanswered for two weeks.

[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-06-28-people-are-still-contracting-listeriosis-but-situation-in-hand-experts/"]The Times report[/link]
[link url="http://www.nicd.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Listeriosis-outbreak-situation-report-_27June2018_fordistribution.pdf"]NICD Listeriosis situation report[/link]
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-06-29-polony-still-causing-listeriosis-four-months-after-recall/"]The Times report[/link]

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