“Listeriosis: are we trivialising a serious matter?”

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By Agnes Sawari

This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.

Image from reuters.com

In the past few months, South Africa has been thrown into a frenzy, throwing out cold meats and raw products in their homes in an attempt to curb the ongoing listeriosis outbreak. Bacon and polony have been compared to weapons of destruction. The outbreak has left many conflicted between their love for products such as bacon and risking their lives. For some, these food products are all they know and love, due to affordability and accessibility. There is a correlation between poverty and vulnerability.When outbreaks take over, the poor are most vulnerable due to their lack of immunities.

Social media has had a significant role in the circulation of information regarding the crisis. It has certainly assisted in warning the masses to be cautious. Meanwhile, many have found time to construct humorous images and jokes about the crisis, choosing to trivialize a dark situation. By participating in the circulation or enjoyment of these sadistic jokes, our communities are depreciating in morale and integrity. The insensitivity amongst the privileged shows the sheer apathy, the disenchantment of the severe impact that affects the masses. This reflects ignorance. It is particularly concerning and disturbing to think that some homeless people may consume the products that are thrown away. One cannot justify the use of dark humour in times of actual health risks, it is not funny to create humour about morbidity that affects the underprivileged the most. The deterioration of public health and negligence of the human condition remains an alarming matter. Polony is a staple food for Cape Town residents and the humour around this epidemic is indignant.

There is stagnancy in matters of improvement. Collective measures should be taken with effect in order to stall the spread of this crisis. Is it justified that we become a community that resorts to humour whenever a crisis emerges? Is this an ideal coping mechanism? Are we using the media to self-destruct?

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