The number of people who have died in South Africa’s listeria outbreak has risen to more than 200, according to the latest official statistics.
However, the number of new cases has declined sharply after products were recalled, Reuters quoted South African authorities as saying on Thursday.
In March, health officials said they had traced the outbreak to an Enterprise Food plant, 300 km (185 miles) north-east of the Pretoria, and immediately ordered a nationwide recall of the affected products.
In a statement, the government said that the number of listeria cases had fallen “drastically” since then.
The health department recalled processed meat products known as “polony”, after the source of the outbreak was traced to a factory owned by Tiger Brands unit Enterprise Foods in March resulting in a class action lawsuit filed against the company.
“Since identification of the source of the outbreak and recall of implicated products, the number of cases of listeria has declined drastically,” the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture said in a joint statement.
The United Nations said South Africa’s listeriosis outbreak is believed to be the largest-ever worldwide. Regional countries in southern, western and eastern Africa imposed a ban on imports of chilled meat imports from South Africa.
The infection mainly affects children and has an incubation period of up to 70 days, making it difficult to track.
Contamination in humans can result in flu-like illness, infection of the bloodstream and, in severe cases, infection of the brain which can prove fatal.