The death toll in South Africa’s precedent-setting Listeria outbreak continues to climb. The number of lives lost has reached 107, nearly half of which were newborns younger than 1 month of age, according to The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD). Also, a total of 852 people have fallen ill.
This outbreak--which began in January 2017--is the largest documented Listeria outbreak in world history. There is still no known source that is causing these deaths and illnesses. Since victims come from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, it has been difficult to pinpoint one single food source that all of them consumed leading up to their illness. Some food experts say the culprit in this outbreak is probably something that South African consumers eat or drink very regularly.
Listeriosis is most commonly associated with ready-to-eat deli meats, raw/unpasteurized dairy products, raw sprouts and some smoked seafoods.
See NICD’s Situation Update on Listeriosis Outbreak, South Africa. This document includes an official summary, epidemiological updates, and a break down of age groups affected.