Listeria: Effect on campus

George van Dyk & Kathryn van den Berg

A recent outbreak of the Listeria bacterium at Enterprise’s Polokwane factory has resulted in Enterprise Foods reaching a compromise by recalling all its chilled products.

Although Campus Health has not treated a patient infected with the bacterium yet, doctors beseech students to take active measures in preventing the contraction of this infection.

Dr Lynne Julie from Campus Health Services  describes Listeriosis as a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium ‘Listeria monocytogenes’, which is widely dispersed in nature.

Listeria is commonly found in soil, water, and contaminated foods. Dr Julie went on to explain that the problem with Listeria lies in the fact that it results in heinous complications in at-risk patients. These patients include the elderly,
immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women, who are in danger of having the infection spread to their
nervous system.

From here, life-threatening illnesses such as meningitis, encephalitis and sepsis of great severity may develop. In the average adult, however, the infection is typically asymptomatic, and when symptoms do arise, they’re predominantly mild and limited to fever, nausea and diarrhoea.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or pre-exposure methods for preventing infection of this bacterium.

Therefore, Campus Health urges basic hygiene procedures to be followed by all. Bidvest Catering Services’ CEO, Rob White, sent a letter to relevant residences explaining that although Bidvest Catering Services (including Bidvest Royal Mandi) do not make use of Enterprise products, the catering companies will refrain from serving polony, viennas and ham products until their suppliers have been able to certify the safety of such products.

As a response, Enterprise Foods is recalling all its chilled Enterprise, Mieliekip, Bokkie and Renown products in addition to offering full refunds to customers.

Once sealed in a plastic bag, the aforementioned products may be taken to a major supermarket or wholesaler by 31 March for a full refund, irrespective of whether or not the product has been opened or in the absence of a receipt.

Furthermore, the Department of Health recommends that fridges once containing Enterprise products be cleaned with disinfectant. At the time of writing, the number of known patients infected with Listeriosis stands at 967, with
a death toll of 183; 79 of which were babies.

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