Listeria monocytogenes. Picture: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention

Johannesburg - The Department of Health says it is still busy with investigations into the source of the listeriosis outbreak which has resulted in the deaths of 37 people so far.

On Sunday Community newspaper Pretoria Moot Rekord reported that a Pretoria woman was the latest person to die since Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that 557 cases were detected across the country.

Sonette Clack (34) from Moot in Pretoria was allegedly transferred to Steve Biko academic hospital last week Friday after it was suspected she contracted meningitis. 

She, however, died the next day.

Read: Joburg on a mission to tackle spread of #listeriosis

"Our main concern at this state is finding the source of foodborne disease. We are still conducting investigations," spokesman Foster Mohale said.

Listeriosis, is a bacterial disease which is found in soil, water and vegetation. Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can be contaminated from these sources.

Symptoms include a flu-like illness with diarrhoea, fever, general body pains, vomiting and weakness. It also includes the infection of the bloodstream called septicaemia as well as meningoencephalitis (infection of the brain). 

People at high risk of contracting the disease are newborns, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weak immunity such as HIV, diabetes, cancer, chronic liver or kidney disease.

Up to 62% cases have so far been reported in Gauteng followed by the Western Cape at 13%, and KwaZulu-Natal with 7% cases.

Although serious, the disease is treatable and preventable.

Also read: #Listeriosis doesn't have to be fatal, says minister

The Department of Health said it was keeping a close Eye on the outbreak alongside the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Meanwhile, a constant sampling of food is being carried out by organisations such as the South African Meat Processors Association (SAMPA), South African Milk Processors Association (SAMPRO), Milk South Africa (MILKSA), Consumer Goods Council, National Laboratory Association.

To keep safe: Keep clean and wash your hands when handling and preparing food. Also cook food thoroughly, never eat half cooked or uncooked food and keep food at safe temperatures and make sure to boil the milk prior to use. 

Politics and Development Hub