For the past week, the entire country has been on a knife edge as news regarding the listeriosis outbreak has flooded the media. Many of us are still digesting the impact this outbreak has on our daily diet and how we can avoid being one of the nearly 1000 known people infected by the listeria bacteria in South Africa.
But how does this, the largest listeria outbreak ever recorded, impact on tourism?
Jennifer Morris, owner of Travel Savvy, says the first thing that people travelling to South Africa should know is that listeriosis generally affects the young, the elderly and people with immune systems that have been compromised by illness, pregnancy or stress.
“Most healthy people who come into contact with Listeria bacteria suffer no ill-affects. In the wake of the biggest Listeriosis outbreak in history, some precautions are necessary.”
“Travellers should avoid all processed meats, deli meats and uncooked meats. This includes pâté and meat spreads (unless they are frozen, canned or shelf-stable), viennas and hot dogs (unless they are heated until steaming hot), polony and russian sausages. They should also avoid all raw or unpasteurized dairy products, including soft and semi-soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert,” she says.
Morris says the South African National Department of Health has acted very quickly on the recall of contaminated products. “If travellers do experience intense bouts of diarrhea, then they should seek medical treatment and ask to be tested for the bacteria. It can be treated with antibiotics.
“Most importantly, all travellers should ensure they have adequate travel insurance which will cover medical treatment should they fall ill. This is true for travellers into South Africa, and out of South Africa. Outbreaks of listeriosis and similar epidemics can happen anywhere.”