Listeriosis is a disease caused by a germ called Listeria, which is found in contaminated animal products such as meat, milk and eggs. You can also get it from fresh fruits and vegetables as well as processed food and cold meats. The infection is currently sweeping through the country, with 748 infections and 68 deaths reported by the National Institute for Non-Communicable-Diseases.


Who is at risk?

According to the Department of Health, people who are most likely to get infected with Listeriosis are new-borns, pregnant women and people with medical conditions that weaken the immune system, like cancer, HIV, chronic liver and kidney disease, and diabetes. However, anyone who eats contaminated food is also at risk.


What are the symptoms?

Go to a doctor or clinic if you experience any of the following signs:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Mental changes like confusion
  • Reoccurring headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Stiff neck
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Loss of balance


Can Listeriosis be treated?

Yes. Listeriosis can be treated successfully with antibiotics. This is why it’s very important to seek help the moment you notice changes in your body or experience any of the above-mentioned signs.


How long does an infection last?

It lasts about one week to six weeks, depending upon the severity of the infection.

How can I protect myself?

Due to the severity of the current outbreak, it’s recommended that you do the following:

  • Wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating or cooking
  • Store uncooked meat separately from produce and other foods
  • Wash cutlery thoroughly before and after handling food
  • Boil fresh milk before you consume to that it becomes pasteurised
  • Avoid eating leftovers
  • Avoid undercooked meat

Remember that even though Listeriosis become dangerous, and in some cases lead to death, early detection saves. Prepare your food with caution as stated above, and get medical attention as soon as you experience any of the signs associated with the infection.