South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says at least 36 people have died following an outbreak of Listeria in South Africa.

During a press briefing, Motsoaledi said a total of 557 lab-confirmed Listeriosis cases have been reported. The majority of these cases have been reported in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Motsoaledi says the bacteria is widely distributed in nature and can be found in soil, water and vegetation. He explained that Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by the bacterium Listeria Monocytogenes.

Animal products and fresh produce can be contaminated.

Motsoaledi says babies are most vulnerable as well as people aged between 15 and 49. About 70% of the cases have been confirmed in these groups.

While Motsoaledi did not say so in his briefing, the belief is the outbreak is food related.