The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported this week that the number of confirmed listeriosis cases is now 852‚ and 107 people have died. The death rate, based on the outcome data for 355 cases for which details are available, sits at 30 percent, according to the South African news website Times LIVE.
Of the 852 confirmed cases‚ 42 percent were babies younger than 1 month. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to develop listeriosis infections than other healthy adults. Women account for 55 percent of the reported cases in which gender is known.
Listeriosis comes from eating or drinking food or beverages containing the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. The bacterium is found in the environment in water, soil, vegetation and in certain animal feces, including those of infected people. It can contaminate animal products, including meat and dairy, seafood and fresh produce. Once Listeria becomes established in a food production facility it can be very difficult to remove.
The source of the South Africa outbreak that started in January 2017 is thought to be a food product or range of products from one company, but that is still just a theory. Victims include people from various social and economic backgrounds.