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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Widespread Outbreak of Listeriosis in South Africa (Update 2)

05 Mar 2018

The South African government has identified via media  the source of a large outbreak of listeriosis.

It is reported that polony sausage made by a processed meat factory operated by Enterprise Foods in Polokwane in Limpopo province is the source of the infection. At least 16 environmental samples from this factory were positive for a virulent strain of Listeria monocytogenes.

Investigations are continuing as, it remains possible that other facilities are involved and there is the possibility of cross contamination in food shops.

The South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has advised people to avoid all ready-to-eat processed meats.

Advice to Travellers

Listeriosis is usually self limiting but can be a serious disease and is especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants, elderly people, transplant patients, people with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions. Anyone in these groups who may be infected should seek medical attention. Symptoms include: fever, muscle and joint pains, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea.

Food should be chosen that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot. Meat and vegetables should be thoroughly cooked and eaten hot whenever possible. Fruit should be peeled.

Avoid the following:

  • Leftovers and reheated meat
  • Ready-to-eat cooked meats and sausage
  • Pâté or meat spreads
  • Unpasteurized milk and dairy products e.g. soft cheese.
  • Refrigerated uncooked seafood
  • Raw vegetables or salad
  • Contact with infected people eg through food handling
  • Contact with infected animals

See Food and Water Precautions.