South Africa is in the middle of a difficult conundrum with health officials scrambling to locate the source of the deadly listeriosis outbreak. According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases [NICD], listeriosis has so far claimed the lives of 172 people. As of February this year there were over 900 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis. The NICD says the source of the outbreak is still unknown.

Watch this week’s Special Assignment as we speak to one of the families who have lost their pregnant daughter. Her baby terminated at 14 weeks as a result of the disease. The family alleges their daughter received inadequate medical attention and questions whether the health authorities have sufficient measures to deal with an outbreak of this magnitude. We also speak to various role players about the preparedness and response time of the health authorities to this disease, whose true costs to society are yet to be realised.

There is no telling how many more lives will be lost but, we ask, could the authorities have done things differently?

Listeria: Deadly Outbreak is produced by Frank Ferro.

Watch Special Assignment, broadcast on Sundays at 21h30 on SABC 3.