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Kenya bans South African meat products as listeria scare spreads

Kenya’s Health Ministry has banned import and sale of certain South African processed meat products after a listeria outbreak that has killed at least 180 people.

Kenya is the second East African country, after Rwanda, to ban ready-to-eat meat products from South Africa that include polony — a local version of baloney sausage — sliced ham and Frankfurter-style sausages.

“In order to ensure the health of the public is protected and as a precautionary measure you are required to stop the importation and sale of these products” and recall those already on sale, the health ministry wrote in a note to health officials.

Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have also blocked the import of the products, including those made by the Enterprise factory, owned by Tiger Brands — which was pinpointed as the source of the outbreak — and others made by Rainbow Chickens.

Some 948 people in South Africa have contracted listeriosis since January 2017. The disease is caused by a naturally-occurring Listeria monocytogenes bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.

At least 180 have died, according to official figures.

The United Nations has previously said South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak is believed to be the largest-ever worldwide.

The infection mainly affects children and has a three-week incubation period, making it difficult to track.

Contamination in humans — especially those with compromised immune systems — can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.

The disease is readily treatable with antibiotics.

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