Date: Tue 21 May 2019
Source: Outbreak News Today[edited]
<http://outbreaknewstoday.com/crimean-congo-hemorrhagic-fever-cchf-outbreak-declared-namibia-11626/>

The Ministry of Health and Social Services of Namibia officially declared an outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) on [6 May 2019] after reporting a number of cases from different regions of the country.

As of 15 May 2019, 7 suspected cases of CCHF were reported from 5 regions, including one laboratory confirmed case out of 7 samples tested and one death (case fatality ratio 14 percent).

The Ministry of Health and Social Services detail the cases/locations in the following press statement.

The World Health Organization says CCHF outbreaks have been recurrent in Namibia in the past 2 years, with cases reported from Omaheke, Omusati, and Kharas regions. The last recorded outbreak occurred in March 2018 in Kharas region, where one fatal confirmed case was reported.

The current outbreak arises in the context of a national drought emergency that can intensify the risk of transmission and geographical spread of the disease, with livestock movements from arid to less dry areas, if mitigating measures are not implemented in a timely manner.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus (_Nairovirus_) of the Bunyaviridae family. The CCHF virus causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10-40%.

Animals become infected by the bite of infected ticks and the virus remains in their bloodstream for about one week after infection, allowing the tick-animal-tick cycle to continue when another tick bites. Although a number of tick genera are capable of becoming infected with CCHF virus, ticks of the genus _Hyalomma_ are the principal vector.

The CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians. Human-to-human transmission is possible.
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[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map of Namibia:
<http://healthmap.org/promed/p/163>

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is the most widespread, tick-borne viral disease affecting humans. The disease is endemic in many regions, such as Africa, Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe, and Central Asia. Ixodid ticks, especially those of the genus _Hyalomma_, are both a reservoir and a vector for the virus. _Hyalomma_ ticks favour dry climates and arid types of vegetation, in areas with abundant small and large mammals that can support haematophagy and the different stages of the tick life-cycle. Environmental factors (such as climate) and human behaviour are critical determinants for the establishment and maintenance of CCHF endemicity within an area.

Given the wide distribution of the _Hyalomma_ vector, the numerous animals that can serve as hosts, and the favourable climatic and ecologic conditions in several European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and African countries , it is possible that the incidence of CCHF may increase geographically over the region in the future (<http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2017.02.018>).

In healthcare settings, implementation of standard IPC (infection prevention and control) measures (standard, droplet, and contact precautions) with additional precautions to avoid aerosols can minimize transmission along with isolation and cohorting of patients. Effective risk communication remains central to prevent primary infection, especially among animal handlers, slaughter-house workers, and agriculture farmers. While there are examples of best practice, there is an urgent need to standardize risk communication with messages that are evidence-based and do not encourage stigma or unnecessary panic. - ProMED Mod.UBA]
Date: Thu 16 May 2019
Source: The Namibian [edited]
<https://www.namibian.com.na/78588/read/Shangula-allays-Congo-fever-fears>

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula announced at a press conference in Windhoek yesterday [Wed 15 May 2019] that of the 6 reported cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), only one had tested positive for the fever, while 3 were found to be negative. The results of the remaining 2 cases are still pending.

Shangula said a 54-year-old woman from Onethika B Village in the Olukonda constituency, who had since recovered and was discharged on 11 May [2019], had tested positive for the disease, also known as Congo fever.

The minister, however, stated that a 77-year-old man who died after admission to the Onandjokwe District Hospital due to a history of tick bites, a high fever, vomiting of blood, and confusion tested negative for Congo fever.

A 50-year-old man who was admitted at the Outapi District Hospital on 8 May [2019] for a tick bite also tested negative, and so did a 40-year-old man who was admitted to the Windhoek Central Hospital.

The 2 pending cases are of a 27-year-old male who was admitted at the Onandjokwe District Hospital on 8 May [2019] but was discharged on 11 May [2019], and of a 57-year-old woman who was admitted at the Engela District Hospital at Oshikango on 9 May [2019].

Yesterday [Wed 15 May 2019], the government, through the health and agriculture ministries, started educating farmers at Onethika B on tick control by applying acaricides to livestock in areas where cases of CCHF had been confirmed.

The health ministry has put together a team of 25 people consisting of 5 committees with veterinary experts, medical officers, nurses, and doctors to control the outbreak. The process, which will go on until tomorrow [Fri 17 May 2019], will help prevent any further spread of the disease.

The Namibian yesterday [Wed 15 May 2019] visited Onethika B and observed officials applying decaspot pour-on. This method is used to control ticks, stable flies, horn flies, and nuisance flies (e.g., house flies), and it protects against blackflies on cattle.

The fever virus is transmitted from humans through bodily fluids, including blood, vomit, and urine. CCHF is a deadly disease classified in the same group as Ebola. The 2 diseases have similar symptoms. The common symptoms include excessive headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, bleeding, and vomiting.

Shangula said although cases of Congo fever have become more frequent over the past 3 years, there has been confusion, with some conditions caused by other viruses that exhibit similar symptoms. He said apart from Congo fever, there are other viral haemorrhagic diseases such as Marbug, Lassa fever, and yellow fever, amongst others. He thus urged members of the public not to panic, but to seek immediate medical attention if they exhibit any of the symptoms.

Everyone is at risk, but Shangula said those at most risk are cattle herders, livestock handlers, slaughterhouse workers, animal health workers, and public health workers who deal with CCHF patients. He added that regular tick control should be carried out on livestock every 2 weeks in summer and once a month during the dry season.

Mathew Ashipala, animal health technician in the Oshikoto region, advised farmers to carry out this exercise after 7 days, just to ensure that there are no more ticks left on the animals. He said the pour-on method being used was effective only for goats, sheep, and cattle. Dogs and pigs are not covered, although they can also be tick carriers.

[AS], a subsistence farmer and resident of Onethika B, brought 17 of his cattle for the pour-on procedure. "We need this kind of assistance. We have never had this kind of help before, as usually we just get the routine animal vaccination," he said, adding that officials have made every farmer aware that this process is to be repeated every week.

[AJA] (54) brought only 7 cattle. "We are happy that they came because of the suspected cases surrounding us. My concern is that some of my livestock are not here, as they search for grazing, so they will not be treated," [AJA] lamented.

[AA] (64), who brought 33 goats, said he was happy that the government was helping those who cannot afford the medicine, although he indicated he will repeat the process himself. He pointed out that the officials had advised them they cannot slaughter a treated animal within the next 3 weeks.  [Byline: Tuyeimo Haidula and Ndanki Kahiurika]
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[Based on the above report, out of 6 suspected cases, only one positive case has been found so far, while the report for 2 is pending. The contact tracing and follow-up of suspected cases and contacts as well as raising community awareness are important measures taken by the department of health in response to this outbreak. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[HealthMap/ProMED-mail map:
Namibia: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/163>]
Date: Sat 11 May 2019
Source: Informante [edited]
<https://informante.web.na/four-more-congo-fever-cases-reported/>

An elderly man is dead and 4 more people have been isolated in different hospitals as a result of an outbreak of Congo fever [Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever] in Namibia. The 4 new cases have been admitted to hospitals for treatment and observation purposes in different regions across the country.

Selma Robert, National Surveillance Officer on the spread of disease in the Ministry of Health confirmed that a 77-year-old man died as a result of the viral infection on [Tue 7 May 2019].

Robert said the diseased elderly man was the neighbour of the 1st confirmed Congo fever case patient, a 54-year-old female from Ontananga village [Oshikoto region] who visited the health facility with complaints of tick-bite, headache, body weakness and blood-stained vomit on [26 Apr 2019]. She added that the 54-year-old female is still alive and is under medical treatment and tight observation.

According to Robert of the 4 new incidents of possible infection, 2 patients were admitted and isolated in the Oshikoto region, one in Outapi [Omusati region], and one person in Windhoek [Komas region].

Robert added that Congo fever has been a seasonal occurrence in Namibia with outbreaks in different towns reported in places such as Gobabis [Omaheke region] last year [2018], Keetmanshoop [!Karas region], and the Omusati region in previous years.

She stated that infected ticks are almost everywhere in the country and that the situation is worsened by the drought as human to animal contact has increased due to the deteriorating health of livestock.

She advised members of the public to wear bright clothing in high risk areas in order to easily notice if they have ticks on them and to wear protective clothing and gloves when handling animals.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease transmitted by ticks. It can be responsible for severe outbreaks and death in humans.

Symptoms of Congo fever include muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes, and photophobia (sensitivity to light). There may also be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.

The disease was first described in the Crimea in 1944 and given the name Crimean haemorrhagic fever. In 1969 it was recognized that the pathogen causing Crimean haemorrhagic fever was the same as that responsible for an illness identified in 1956 in the Congo, and linkage of the 2 place names resulted in the current name for the disease and the virus.  [Byline: Zorena Jantze]
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[From the information above, it is quite possible that one the 4 suspected cases mentioned had contact with the recently reported fatal case (see Crimean-Congo hem. fever - Africa (05): Namibia (OT) http://promedmail.org/post/20190509.6460573) but information on the remaining cases is not available. Further epidemiological data and the final laboratory results in this regard would be quite helpful and any updates would be appreciated. - ProMED Mod.UBA]

[Maps of Namibia:
<http://www.mapsofworld.com/namibia/maps/namibia-political-map.jpg>
and <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/163>]
Date: Tue 7 May 2019
Source: The Namibian [edited]
<https://www.namibian.com.na/78289/read/Congo-fever-case-found-in-Oshikoto-region>

A 54 year old woman from Onethika village in the Oshikoto region was admitted to Onandjokwe Hospital after she was diagnosed with Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

A letter written by acting Oshikoto regional health director, Helena Nkandi-Shiimi states that the woman went to the hospital on [21 Apr 2019] complaining of a headache, fever, and vomiting blood after she got bitten by a tick around [18 Apr 2019].

"The patient was sent home, and again reported at the Ontananga clinic on [26 Apr 2019] with the same complaints," Nkandi-Shiimi said, adding that the patient was admitted, and tests were done on her blood, which discovered the virus.

The virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after an animal slaughter. The majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers, and veterinarians.

Nkandi-Shiimi further said the patient, who is in a stable condition, is in strict isolation, and infection protocols were enforced. The patient shows no more signs or symptoms of CCHF.

"A team was sent to Onethika village to do a case investigation and tracing," she said, but none of the people she was in contact with showed any symptoms. She noted that an active case search will be done, especially in the health facilities and areas around Onethika village.  [Byline: Okeri Ngutjinazo]
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[CCHF is viral illness that occurs in Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia. The principal reservoir and vector of CCHF are ticks of the genus _Hyalomma_, although other tick genera can be infected with CCHF virus. The CCHF virus is transmitted to humans mainly by tick bites (70 percent of CCHF cases have a history of tick bite) or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.

88 percent of people infected will have subclinical symptoms. One in 8 people will develop a severe disease. Case fatality ratio can reach 15 percent among patients hospitalized with severe presentation.

Symptoms are non-specific; clinical diagnosis may be difficult. Differential diagnosis includes other viral haemorrhagic fevers, malaria, typhoid fever, shigellosis, and other viral and bacterial diseases which may present difficulty in absence of good laboratory services. Definitive diagnosis requires testing: reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay; IgG and IgM antibodies enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); antigen detection tests; virus isolation by cell culture. Handling and processing specimen requires suitably equipped laboratories under maximum biological containment conditions and staff collecting samples should be trained in biosafety.

Patient history is essential and should include: exposure to ticks; or exposure to wild animals and livestock; and/or area/village endemic for CCHF; and/or contact with CCHF cases.

In healthcare settings, the following should be considered when handling CCHF cases:
"- implement standard precautions with all patients -- regardless of their diagnosis -- in all work practices, at all times, including safe injection practices (<http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/standardprecautions/en/index.html>);
- healthcare workers treating patients with CCHF should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient's blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding (<http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/filovirus_infection_control/en>);
- laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from suspected human CCHF cases for diagnosis should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories."  (<https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/crimean-congo-haemorrhagic-fever/introduction.pdf>)

Maps of Namibia:
<http://www.mapsofworld.com/namibia/maps/namibia-political-map.jpg>
and <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/10610>
Oshikoto is one of the 14 regions of Namibia
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oshikoto_Region>. - ProMED Mod.UBA]
Date: Tue 19 Feb 2019
Source: Reliefweb, a New Era report [edited]
<https://reliefweb.int/report/namibia/hepatitis-e-outbreak-exposes-health-s-emergency-unpreparedness>

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Social Services show that as of [27 Jan 2019], a total 4432 hepatitis E cases had been reported in Namibia. So far, 40 deaths have been reported and the death toll is disproportionately highest among pregnant women and those who have given birth, constituting 17 cases, which translates to 42.5% of deaths. Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Kalumbi Shangula said he has had a chance to interact with teams that are charged with the hepatitis E outbreak control at national and regional levels.

"Though we note progress made, the fact that the outbreak is persisting and has the potential to become endemic in Namibia is a wake-up call to action. The latent apathy that permeates through the public towards the disease is frightening phenomenon," said Shangula. He said a rapid assessment that was conducted late in 2018 revealed certain gaps and weaknesses in the current control environment.
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[Hepatitis E is found worldwide, and different genotypes of the hepatitis E virus determine differences in epidemiology. For example, genotype 1 is usually seen in developing countries and causes community-level outbreaks, whereas genotype 3 is usually seen in developed countries and does not cause outbreaks. Acute epidemic hepatitis E is attributable to infection with hepatitis E virus genotypes 1 and 2. Many of the deaths are in pregnant women, characteristic of genotype 1.

The highest seroprevalence rates (number of persons in a population who test positive for the disease) are observed in regions where low standards of sanitation increase the risk for transmission of the virus. - ProMED Mod.LL]

[HealthMap/ProMED map available at:
Namibia: <http://healthmap.org/promed/p/163>]
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