NICD listeriosis outbreak update – 14th May 2018

The NICD is an expert advisory body providing specialist advice in outbreak situations as well as offering laboratory support when required. They provide technical support for all aspects of communicable disease outbreaks and control in the nine provinces of South Africa, with special emphasis on optimising the role of laboratory services during these events. Here is an update on the recent listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.




  • 1 033 laboratory confirmed cases have been reported from 01 January 2017 to 10 May 2018. Six additional cases were reported during the period 02-10 May 2018.
  • The number of reported cases per week has decreased since the implicated products were recalled on 04 March 2018 with a total of 64 cases reported since 5 March 2018 (average 6.4 cases/week), whereas 249 cases were reported for the 10 week period prior to the recall (average 24.9 cases/week).
  • All provinces are urged to complete the risk assessment tool for all food processing facilities and submit to Three provinces have submitted risk assessments for 38 food production facilities. The tool can be found on the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) website at with the link ‘Food processing plant risk-profiling tool for completion by District Municipalities (2018)’.
  • Implementation of Phase 2 of the Listeria Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is in progresss: Factory inspections of RCL and Tiger Brands production facilities have been completed. Training of environmental health practitioners (EHPs) was conducted in Gauteng on 10-11 May 2018. A meeting of government communications officers from the Departments of Health (DoH), Trade and Industry (DTI), Social Development (SD), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) was held on 9 May 2018 to harmonise a media strategy, draft a joint media statement and plan joint media and community engagement events.
  • Upcoming activities include training of EHPs, factory inspections, media workshop and a consultative meeting regarding processed meet legislation. See below for details.




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.


Emergency management approach


A multi-sectoral incident management team (IMT) that was formed under the leadership of the National Department of Health has finalised the implementation of the updated Listeriosis Emergency Response Plan. The plan was developed by the IMT and approved by the DG, National Department of Health (NDoH) on 20


April 2018. The aim of the plan is to control and end the current listeriosis outbreak, and to strengthen systems to facilitate prevention and early detection of outbreaks. To inform and support these aims, surveillance and investigation of cases of listeriosis and risk communication activities are ongoing. Additional activities to complement these are being conducted as follows;

  • Phase 1: Development of the ERP, communication of the plan with provincial and district stakeholders, development of material and training of staff to support inspections of facilities identified as at-risk food processing plants;
  • Phase 2: Inspection of at-risk food processing plant and strengthening the capacity of district environmental health practitioners;
  • Phase 3: Reporting and consolidation of health system strengthening activities, and after action review.


To download the full update please click on the link below.

Full Report Back





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