[ALERT] Listeria death toll now at 63 following Southern Cape deaths

The exact source of a countrywide listeriosis outbreak remains a mystery.

A view of the listeria bacteria. Picture: National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

CAPE TOWN - Two people have died from listeriosis in the Southern Cape.

This brings to 63 people who've died from the disease nationally.

There have been six laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease in the Eden district.

The exact source of a countrywide listeriosis outbreak remains a mystery.

Some 727 cases have been recorded across the country.

Western Cape Health Department spokesperson Nadia Ferreira says: “There has been six laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis in the Eden district, of which two people have died. These cases are spread across the district and not contained to one small geographical area.”

Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes, and is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation.

Animal products and fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables, can be contaminated from these sources.

Last week, the City of Johannesburg said samples of listeria was discovered at a food outlet. The samples were sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for confirmatory testing.

The city did not divulge the identity of the food outlet.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)