The Ministry of Health and Child Care warns Zimbabweans not to carry polony and processed meats from South Africa. This comes after 180 people have died from Listeriosis in South Africa.
There was an outbreak of the disease in South Africa since the beginning of the year. While the disease is still confined to that country many countries in the SADC region are taking measures to prevent the spread.
South African authorities have managed to trace the diseases to a source which is known and has been named. Foods that are spreading the disease have been taken off the shelves.
The products which have been identified in South Africa so far are mainly from Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken.
Listeriosis is a rare foodborne disease found in 10 cases per 1 million people is spread from consumption of foods that are contaminated by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. These high-risk foods include ready-to-eat meat products such as cooked, cured and/or fermented meats, and sausages, soft cheeses and cold smoked fishery products and dairy products made of unpasteurized milk. The disease can also be spread from one person who is sick to others by sharing food or through contact.
When one is infected, the disease takes a few days to weeks generally up to 2 weeks to start showing to those affected. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with suppressed immune system are at risk of getting the disease. Signs and symptoms of the disease are:
– High fever>38 degrees
– Myalgia (muscle pain),
– High mortality rate (20%-30%) and
– Complications such as septicaemia and meningitis
People can avoid contracting the diseases by practising good personal hygiene, washing hands at all times before eating and handling foods or after using the toilet.
The following are measures that the Ministry of Health and Child Care has taken:
Cross-border collaboration and sharing of information on disease outbreak with our neighbour is being strengthened. International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 prohibits trade restriction due to disease outbreaks.
Monitoring of refrigerated ready to eat foods coming into the country at the border posts to make sure that they are not coming from the identified brands and source
Inspection of food outlets and companies in at-risk areas and border districts
Temperature monitoring of travellers from risky areas at ports of entry at border posts and airports
Strict hygiene control measures of the environment where food is manufactured and kept though inspection of premises and factories
The Ministry of Health and Child Care staff at the borders will be monitoring products being imported to make sure that the disease is not introduced into the country.