EXPLAINER: Symptoms associated with listeriosis

JOHANNESBURG – The Health Department has announced that ready-to-eat processed meats are the source of the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.

So far 180 people have died, most of them in Gauteng and now major retailers have started pulling affected products off the shelves.

The department is advising South Africans to avoid polony, viennas, russians and other ready to eat meat products for now as they are believed to be the source of the latest listeriosis outbreak.

The bacteria has been traced to three production plants belonging to Enterprise Foods and Rainbow Chicken.

READ: Five key food precautions you need to practise to avoid listeriosis

High-risk groups:

Those at high-risk are newborns, especially in their first 28 days of life, as well as pregnant women and their unborn babies.

The elderly are also at risk, especially those above the age of 65.

People with compromised immune systems, like those with HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver conditions or kidney disease, are at particular risk.


Some of the symptoms include flu-like symptoms like fever and nausea as well as diarrhoea.

In high-risk patients, the spread of infection to the nervous system can cause meningitis, leading to headaches, confusion, a stiff neck, loss of balance or convulsions.

Pregnant women may present with a mild flu-like illness associated with headache, fever and myalgia.

However, infections during pregnancy can lead to premature births, infection of the newborn with permanent disability and miscarriage or stillbirth.


Paid Content