Listeriosis Outbreak, Prevention Is the Key Importance Of Hand Washing

On Tuesday, 5 December 2017, the South African Department of Health announced an outbreak of Listeriosis. Here’s what South Africans need to know about correct hand washing to help prevent this fast-spreading and deadly infection.

South Africa, 8 December 2017 – A recent outbreak of Listeriosis has been reported in multiple provinces with a total of 557 cases reported in 2017, compared to an average of 60 and 80 cases in previous years. The source of this outbreak is currently under investigation, however the disease has already claimed 36 fatalities.

In response to the announcement by the government, Lifebuoy is showing its support by driving awareness with the South African public that, in situations like this, the simple act of handwashing can be a lifesaving measure.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has implored anyone displaying symptoms of Listeriosis to seek medical help immediately. Though this disease can be deadly, the majority of people will recover over the course of several days, however, at risk individuals should seek urgent medical care.

“Individuals at high risk of developing severe disease include newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weak immunity such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease,” said Motsoaledi.

There isn’t a vaccine to prevent catching this infection but Listeriosis is treatable and preventable and practicing good hygiene can be key to prevention.

“As a brand that is committed to hygiene to help prevent the spread of disease, we understand how handwashing with soap has the potential to save lives and so we encourage the public to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly and share this important message with those around you to stop the disease spreading further,” said Sphelele Mjadu, Unilever, PR Lead for Africa.

Lifebuoy recommends washing hands with soap using the correct method at key occasions to lessen the risk of infection.

The correct way to wash your hands:

It should take at least 15 seconds to wash your hands – any less and you may not have killed harmful bacteria.

1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (preferably warm) and apply soap.

2. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub your hands all over.

3. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 15-30 seconds.

4. Rinse your hands well under running water.

5. Dry your hands on a clean, dry towel to ensure that they don’t get recontaminated with germs.

When should you wash your hands?

Key occasions

Before food preparation

During food preparation

After going to the toilet

At bath-time

This public safety message is courtesy of Lifebuoy.

For more information please visit

About the Help A Child Reach 5 campaign

Handwashing with soap saves lives. Lifebuoy’s Help A Child Reach 5 campaign aims to eradicate preventable deaths from diseases like diarrhoea by teaching lifesaving handwashing habits.

About Listeria

Listeria is a kind of bacteria found in soil, water and some animals including poultry and cattle. It can be found in raw milk and foods made with raw milk. Listeria can also live in food processing plants and contaminate processed meats.

Symptoms may only show up 2-30 days after exposure. Symptoms include fever, nausea and sometimes diarrhoea. Pregnant women who become infected display flu-like symptoms, fever, nausea and muscle aches. If the infection spreads to the nervous system sufferers experience convulsions, disorientation and a stiff neck. Antibiotics are used to treat this serious infection. Pregnant women can receive antibiotic treatment to ! keep the infection from affecting the baby. If you suspect you have any of the symptoms above, visit a clinic or contact your doctor immediately.

About Lifebuoy

As the world’s leading health soap, Lifebuoy aims to make a difference by creating accessible hygiene products (soap) and promoting healthy hygiene habits. With this in mind, Lifebuoy aims to change the hand washing behaviour of one billion people by 2020. Since 2010 Lifebuoy has changed the hand washing behaviours of 257 million people across 24 countries.

Lifebuoy Hygiene Soap:

Lifebuoy Soap contains Silver Activ formula for our best protection ever against 10 infection-causing germs.


Lifebuoy Hand Wash 200ml - R32,99 Lifebuoy Soap 100g - R6,99 Lifebuoy Soap 175g - R12,99

About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers a day. It has 169,000 employees and generated sales of €53.3 billion in 2015. Over half (58%) of the company’s footprint is in developing and emerging markets. Unilever has more than 400 brands found in homes around the world, including Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s, PG Tips, Ben & Jerry’s, Marmite, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan commits to:

• Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020.

• Halving the environmental impact of our products by 2030.

• Enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020.

Unilever was ranked number one in its sector in the 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index, it achieved the highest environmental score of 5. It led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the 2016 GlobeScan/ SustainAbility annual survey for the sixth year running. Unilever was ranked the ! most sustainable food and beverage company in Oxfam’s Behind the Brands Scorecard in 2016 for the second year.

For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit For more information on the USLP: