On Tuesday‚ the Department of Health announced that South Africa had an outbreak of the food-borne disease listeriosis.
A total of 557 cases have been reported this year alone‚ a steep jump from the average of between 60 and 80 reported in previous years.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the disease had resulted in 36 deaths.
Here are 10 things we know about the disease thus far:
1) The department said it does not have any readily available data on past mortality rate figures associated with listeriosis as it was previously not flagged as a notable disease.
2) The alert of a possible outbreak was noted in July when Gauteng doctors from neonatal units in the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitals raised the alarm when they recorded an unusually high number of babies with listeriosis.
3) Gauteng accounted for the bulk of the cases‚ with 345 reported thus far. The Western Cape had the second-most reported cases (71) followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 37 cases.
4) There are four possible sources of the disease - • where food is collected‚ e.g. farms • food processing plants • retail stores • food preparation at home
5) The health department believes this particular outbreak of listeriosis is most likely because of the contamination of food from farms or food processing plants but the source is still being investigated.