WHO Warns Nigeria, Others Of Listeriosis Outbreak
Nigeria and 15 other African countries have been asked to prepare and respond to listeriosis outbreak.
There has been no case of listeriosis reported in Nigeria, but the disease started in South Africa in 2017 and WHO fears it may have reached West Africa.
It is a bacterial infection most commonly caused by Listeria monocytogenes and the World Health Organization (WHO) released an alert on Wednesday warning Nigeria, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
WHO also confirmed its support for the countries’ preparedness and response to the disease.
Listeriosis can cause severe illness, including severe sepsis, meningitis, or encephalitis, sometimes resulting in lifelong harm and even death.
Listeria is ubiquitous and is primarily transmitted via the oral route after ingestion of contaminated food.
According to WHO numbers, nearly 200 South Africans have died since January 2017 as a result of contaminated ready-to-eat meat products.
These are widely consumed in the country and may also have been exported to two West African countries and 14 members of the South African Development Community.
South African health authorities recently declared the source of the outbreak as a factory in Polokwane, in the country’s northeast.
This prompted a national and international recall of the food products.
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However, in light of the potentially long incubation period of listeriosis and the challenges relating to large scale nationwide recall processes, further cases are likely to occur.
Whole genome sequencing of isolated strains of the Listeria bacteria was used to make the link between the contaminated products, the producing company and strains of Listeria isolated from the patients.
The WHO is currently supporting further genome sequencing to determine which cases are linked to this ongoing outbreak.