There is a reported outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa. The infectious disease which became a public health concern in SA since 5th December, 2017 is reported to have claimed more than 30 lives prompting the SA health authority to reinforce its preventive methods. The Food and Drug Authority, Ghana has also increased surveillance to prevent the similar outbreak in Ghana. There is no need for fear but it is important to know some basics about listeriosis.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the germ Listeria monocytogenes. People usually become ill with listeriosis after eating contaminated food. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It’s rare for people in other groups to get sick with Listeria infection.
Listeriosis is usually a mild illness for pregnant women, but it causes severe disease in the fetus or newborn baby. Some people with Listeria infections, most commonly adults 65 years and older and people with weakened immune systems, develop severe infections of the bloodstream (causing sepsis) or brain (causing meningitis or encephalitis). Listeria infections can sometimes affect other parts of the body, including bones, joints, and sites in the chest and abdomen.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF LISTEROSIS?
Listeriosis can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected. Listeria can cause fever and diarrhea similar to other foodborne germs, but this type ofListeria infection is rarely diagnosed. Symptoms in people with invasive listeriosis, meaning the bacteria has spread beyond the gut, depend on whether the person is pregnant.
- Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience only fever and other flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and muscle aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
- People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
People with invasive listeriosis usually report symptoms starting 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria; some people have reported symptoms starting as late as 70 days after exposure or as early as the same day of exposure.
HOW IS LISTEROSIS DIAGNOSED?
Listeriosis is usually diagnosed when a bacterial culture (a type of laboratory test) grows Listeria monocytogenes from a body tissue or fluid, such as blood, spinal fluid, or the placenta.
Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.
PREVENT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FROM LISTERIOSIS
- Heat deli meats and hot dogs until steaming hot before eating.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours in shallow, covered containers and use within 3-4 days.
- Avoid cross-contamination in the refrigerator or other places in the kitchen.
- Use a thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is 40°F or lower and your freezer is 0°F or lower.
Log on to https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/faq.html for more information
COMPILED BY AWIAGAH SHERRIF KWAME (BSN, Clinician, Nurse Educator)
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OHM Consult