Malawi Minister of Health and Population Atupele Muluzi has said the country is ready to fight listeriosis that has attacked South Africa.
Muluzi made the remarks during a press conference on the disease in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
According to the health minister, the country at the moment is yet to record a case of the disease but necessary measures have been put in place to prevent the disease.
He said authorities from Ministry of Health, Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and Competition and Fair Trading Commission met to discuss ways of controlling the disease.
“In the event that Malawi records a case of listeriosis we are fully prepared with the necessary treatment and we have the capacity to do laboratory confirmation of the disease,” Muluzi said.
He added that some of the measures taken to prevent possible risk to consumers include the banning of importation, distribution and consumption of processed meat products produced by Tiger Brand Unit – Enterprise Foods and RCL Foods from South Africa, one of the major suppliers of processed meat products to Malawi.
“Secondly we will increase the public’s understanding of the signs, prevention and treatment of Listeriosis.
“And finally we will conduct inspections of business that retail or supply processed ready to eat meat produced by Enterprise Foods and RCL Foods.” he said.
Muluzi added that on Wednesday and Thursday the Competition and Fair Trading Commission inspected shops in the cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu to establish whether they stocked the recalled products.
“I can report that twenty-three processed meat products from the concerned company were found to include Polony, Viennas, Sausages, Cold Meats and Cheese. I can confirm that these products have since been removed from the shelves and will be destroyed,” Muluzi said.
Listeriosis is a disease caused by eating foods contaminated with the listeria monocytogenes bacteria. It affects pregnant women, newborn children, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems.
Healthy adults and children sometimes are infected with listeria monocytogenes, but they rarely become seriously ill. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy.
Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, and sometimes nausea or diarrhoea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or convulsions can occur.
Muluzi reminded Malawians that develop any of the symptoms to seek treatment without delay at the nearest health facility as there are adequate drugs to deal with the disease