Date: Thu 16 May 2019
Source: The Namibian [edited]
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 , 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  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  but was discharged on 11 May , and of a 57-year-old woman who was admitted at the Engela District Hospital at Oshikango on 9 May .
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]
[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]