Phase 1 of the listeriosis emergency response plan (ERP) to strengthen the response to the listeriosis outbreak has been completed. This includes development of the ERP, obtaining approval for the ERP, communication of the plan with provincial and district stakeholders, development of a risk-assessment tool to identify high-risk food production facilities for inspection, development of training material and checklists to support inspections of facilities, capacitation of NHLS food testing laboratories. These activities build on the response activities conducted before 9 April 2018, which include identification of the source, product recall and risk communication.
A meeting to orient the provincial communications, environmental health and communicable disease authorities to the ERP was held on 24-25 April at NICD in Johannesburg. Agreement was reached on the role of the provinces and the next steps to implement the ERP.
The number of cases of laboratory-confirmed listeriosis reported per week has decreased since the implicated products were recalled on 04 March 2018, with five additional cases reported this week (epidemiological week 15).
As of 24 April 2018, a total of 1 024 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD since 01 January 2017. Since the recall 7 weeks ago, a total of 55 cases have been reported, whereas for the 7 weeks prior to the recall, 169 cases were reported. All cases that have been identified after the recall are being fully investigated.
Prior to 2017, an average of 60 to 80 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases per year (approximately 1 per week), were reported in South Africa. In July 2017, an increase in laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis was reported to National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) which was followed by investigations into the reported increase. On 05 December 2017, the listeriosis outbreak was declared by the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi. The source of the outbreak was identified as ready-to-eat processed meat products
manufactured at Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility. A recall of affected products was initiated on 04 March 2018.