PRETORIA - Health officials are trying to determine the source of the recent outbreak of listeriosis that claimed 36 lives in South Africa.
The rare, food-borne disease is transmitted through dairy, meat and vegetable products.
Pregnant women, infants and people with weaker immune systems are at particular risk.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said there are over 500 confirmed laboratory cases.
At least 36 people have died since earlier in 2017 and officials expect that number to increase.
Motsoaledi appealed to people to wash their hands before and while preparing food.
"We believe for this outbreak, the most likely possible source is either contamination of food at the origin of farms or from food processing plants. The source of this outbreak is currently being investigated and all stakeholders are cooperating with the investigation led by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases,” the minister said.
“Environmental health officials are following up diagnosed cases and are visiting homes to sample food, where possible," Motsoaledi added.