WC Health Dept confirms five listeriosis related deaths

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a countrywide outbreak of the illness earlier this month, adding it had already claimed nearly 40 lives.

A microscopic view of the listeria bacteria. Picture: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Health Department has confirmed five listeriosis related deaths have been recorded in the province.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced a countrywide outbreak of the illness earlier this month, adding that it had already claimed nearly 40 lives.

An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the outbreak.

The Western Cape Health Department says that four of the deaths were reported in the Cape Town metropole.

One person died of the food-borne disease in the Overberg District.

The department's Mark van der Heever said: “As at the 18 of December, the latest data we received were that there were 83 confirmed cases of listeriosis of which the case analysis of 25 have been done which indicate that there were five deaths recorded as well.”

Van der Heever says they're working with national authorities to try to determine the source of the outbreak.

Symptoms are similar to flu with diarrhoea, fever, nausea, body pains and weakness.

Newborns, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weak immunity, are at high risk of contracting listeriosis.

Listeriosis is a treatable bacteria found in vegetation, soil and water.