Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

Listeriosis outbreak: Where in South Africa are you most likely to catch the disease?

A provincial breakdown of a national problem

Listeriosis UK

Flickr / NIAID

South Africa is currently experiencing the worst outbreak of Listeriosis in world history. Earlier this week, the death toll from the disease rose to 67, after 748 reported cases.

Listeria is the reason for the suffering. The bacteria is found in hot, wet conditions where soil is laid. This can get into the vegetation that grows from the earth, or the meat we eat when animals are grazing across that land.

South Africa has only had one of these outbreaks before, in 1977. But that was limited to 14 people in Johannesburg. This latest wave is an epidemic, and it is claiming the lives of 9% of its victims. But where are the Listeriosis hot-spots in this country?

Where are you most likely to catch Listeriosis in South Africa?

Much like 1977, it is the Gauteng region that bears the brunt of the epidemic. Around 60% of cases have occurred in SA’s most densely populated region, with an estimated 450 reports of the illness in the province.

The next most populous hot spot is the Western Cape, with 101 cases reported since the outbreak began in January 2017. That’s 13% of all known cases in Mzansi.

Perhaps another province that could also fall onto the ‘high-risk radar’ is KwaZulu-Natal. Approximately 55 cases in the eastern region account for 7% off all known Listeriosis patients in the last 12 months.

We spoke to the National Institute for Communicable Disease. They weren’t able to confirm deaths for every region, but helped us locate two other provinces where Listeriosis had claimed lives:

  • Northern Cape – Four cases, three deaths
  • North West – 14 cases, two deaths

Where are you least likely to catch Listeriosis in South Africa?

Elsewhere, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Free State had not recorded any deaths. However, every region has registered patients who were treated for Listeriosis in the last 12 months.

No-one, in any particular region, is immune to Listeriosis however. Please take all the necessary precautions you can to stay safe, and ensure you keep your home a disease-free zone.