These vulnerable groups are at high risk of contracting listeriosis

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has urged South Africans with weaker immune systems to be on high alert for symptoms of listeriosis.

NICD's Dr Juno Thomas explains that the listeriosis outbreak affects certain vulnerable groups the most.

Read: Listeriosis death toll hits 61, added to notifiable diseases list

Vulnerable groups include:

  • pregnant women
  • infants
  • the elderly
  • HIV positive people
  • people with diabetes
  • cancer patients
  • those with auto immune diseases

Dr Thomas says the national outbreak is caused one particular strain of bacteria.

Also read: Tips on how to reduce Listeria risk in foods

The foodborne pathogen has claimed the lives of more than 60 patients in South Africa.

The doctor explains that listeriosis symptoms can resemble a harmless 'gastro' bug, but adds that vulnerable groups should seek medical treatment.

The most common form of the disease is a fever with diarrhea.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

Listeriosis is the name of the disease that humans develop when they eat food contaminated with the bacteria called listeria.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

This is not a contagious disease. An infected person cannot pass it on with other people they come into contact with.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

The only way that you can get listeriosis is if you eat food that is contaminated with the bacteria or if the bacteria is passed through a pregnant woman's unborn child.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

For the otherwise healthy person, listeria poses virtually minimal risk.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

It's groups of particular people that are at high risk for developing disease.

Dr Juno Thomas, head of the Centre for Enteric Diseases at the NICD

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