Listeriosis and rabies are subjects of great concern among citizens, but the Free State government this week ensured communities that action is being taken and assistance is available to affected people.
MEC for Health in the Free State, Butana Komphela, discussed these diseases at a media briefing on Tuesday and ensured citizen that the government is available for anyone who might be concerned about these diseases.
The aim of the provincial government is to protect the most vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly, pregnant women, infants and immune-compromised individuals. The government has also had various responses to the outbreaks. “Following the conformation of the cases, the Department of Health activated the Provincial and District Outbreak Response Teams to control the outbreak,” Komphela said.
District and metropolitan municipalities are currently conducting regular inspections as per the approved Environmental Health Norms and Standards through the Environmental Health Inspectors at all licensed food premises.
Municipalities play a vital role in providing municipal health services that include food control, health surveillance of premises and surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases within their area of jurisdiction.
“To date, Mangaung Metro has collected 12 samples from two food processing plants and ten from retailers in the Bloemfontein area,” Komphela said.
Consumers also have to play a role in protecting themselves from this outbreak. They need to exercise caution when they procure food, especially meat, dairy and vegetable products. Premises where foods are bought should be clean and in a spotless condition. Hands should be washed before and after preparing food, before eating and after using the bathroom,.
Raw vegetables and fruit must be washed and mothers must refrain from providing infants with raw or unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses, vegetables, processed foods and ready-to-eat meats. Foods must also be kept at safe temperatures.
The next issue discussed was that of rabies. Rabies is a contagious viral disease that causes damage to the brain and the spinal cord and is uniformly fatal and affects both animals and humans.
Although rabies is more common to stray and domestic dogs in the Thabo Mofutsanyana district, people are warned that any person who comes into contact with infected animals like cats, dogs, mongeese, bats or cattle are at risk of contracting the disease.
Rabies symptoms include general weakness, discomfort, fever and headache. As the disease progresses, symptoms may lead to anxiety, confusion and agitation.
In order to prevent rabies, all animals should be vaccinated against the disease after the age of three months. Intramuscular injection of rabies immunoglobulin is given at the site of exposure and the remainder in the opposite deltoid muscle as soon as possible after the bite. Pre-exposure vaccination can also be given to high risk groups such as veterinarians and animal handlers.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development conducted a mass vaccination campaign on cats and dogs in December last year. More stakeholder involvement and collaboration with specific provincial government departments will ensure the improvement of information sharing methods and interventions.
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