The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says listeriosis does not pose a major health risk to the majority of the population, although 61 people have died of the bacterial disease this year.

At least 660 cases of the disease, caused by eating foods contaminated with the Listeria bacteria, have been reported to the NICD.

The NICD’s Dr Juno Thomas says investigations are currently underway to determine the origin of the outbreak, which is believed to have started at a single food packing or manufacturing location. Thomas explains the extent of the risk.

“Otherwise healthy persons are at minimal risk of getting listeria disease. They usually just shake it off even if they’ve eaten contaminated food. But the people who are at risk include women who are pregnant, very young babies under the age of a month, persons over the age of 65 and anyone who has a weakened immune system.”