Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says 36 people have died following an outbreak of Listeria in South Africa.
He says a total of 557 cases have been confirmed in a lab as Listeriosis in 2017, which is unusual.
The majority of these cases have been reported in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Motsoaledi, Listeriosis is a disease that you get when you are infected with a bacteria called listeria monocytogenes.
Motsoaledi says this bacteria has been in South Africa for the past 40 years and both private and public hospitals get between 60 and 80 cases a year. Having 557 cases in one year is completely new in South Africa, proving that there is an outbreak, says Motsoaledi.
We are making preparations to making it a notifiable disease.— Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister
Listeria is found in soil, water and vegetation so you can see it is widespread...— Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister
If the bacteria finds it's way from the soil, water and vegetation into the food you are going to eat, then you will get sick with Listeriosis - it is a food borne disease and it is not contagious.— Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister
Motsoaledi says people can get listeriosis from another person only if a person diagnosed with Listeria contaminate the food you eat.
The good news is that listeriosis is a treatable disease. It is disincentive with an antibiotic called ampicillin.
It is treatable but dangerous.— Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Health Minister
The health department is currently conducting investigations to determine the source of this disease.
Motsoaledi says they suspect it to be coming from farmers or processing plants. They are currently looking into these two to contain the disease before it spread even further.
To hear more of what the health department is doing to contain this disease, listen below: