The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced on Thursday that the death toll in the listeriosis outbreak has climbed to 189 – up six deaths from its last update.
It also announced that there were now 982 confirmed cases of the deadly disease‚ with outcomes known in 687 of these. The mortality rate is now 28%.
A nationwide recall of affected food products – which has been traced back to ready-to-eat processed meat products manufactured at Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility – was announced on March 4.
However‚ as it had previously warned there would be‚ the NICD said more new cases of listeriosis had been confirmed since the recall. In total‚ there had been 23 laboratory-confirmed cases since March 4 – but all exposures occurred prior to the recall.
The institute said that the reasons for the post-recall new cases were that:
• the incubation period of listeriosis can be up to 70 days
• implicated food products have a long refrigeration shelf life‚ and it is possible that despite the recall some products were not removed from retail or home settings and consumption might occur; and
• the possibility of cross-contamination of other types of foods in the retail or home setting may result in additional cases.
"As of March 26‚ 2018‚ a total of 982 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases have been reported to NICD since January 1‚ 2017. Most cases have been reported from Gauteng (576 cases) followed by Western Cape (121) and KwaZulu-Natal (71)‚" the NICD said in an update posted on its website.