1. Listeriosis is a type of food poisoning caused by eating foods contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

2. The bacteria are widely found in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

3. A listeria infection may result in flu-like symptoms with diarrhoea, infection of the bloodstream and infection of the brain.

4. In October 2017 the Multisectional National Outbreak response team was briefed on the situation in the country. Tracing from the 1st of January 2017, as of 29 November, a total of 557 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported from all provinces.

5. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed that there is an outbreak of food-borne disease Listeriosis in South Africa.

6. Those who are more at risk contracting the disease are newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems.

7. There are four possible sources; farms, food processing plants, retail and food preparation at home.

8. Laboratory tests returned 24 positive results between February and November 2017, according to a report from the institute which follows an announcement that 36 people have died from listeria nationwide.

9. Dr Juno Thomas, of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said she was concerned that the disease would spread during the festive season when people would have large family meals together. Food might also not be stored at the right temperatures on hot days, which worked in favour of the bacterium.

10. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said they believed the disease had originated at a farm or food processing plant. He said there were normally 60-80 cases of the disease every year, but that doctors had noticed a sharp spike in the number of infections this year.

The World Health Organisation’s food safety tips to prevent possible infection:

– Cooking food thoroughly, particularly meat products
– Washing hands thoroughly before and after preparing meals
– Making sure that clean water is used (If families have no clean water supply, they should boil the water).