New Era (Windhoek)

23 January 2013

Namibia: Anthrax Vaccinations Start in Oshikoto

Oshakati — Health authorities in the Oshikoto Region yesterday cordoned off the Omadhiya village and started to vaccinate all livestock in the village.

According to Oshikoto Regional Health Director, Peter Kefas Angala, councillors from constituencies in the region, including veterinarians, church leaders, health and education officials attended the meeting on Monday.

The meeting decided that no animals from other villages should be allowed to pass through Omadhiya village where the outbreak was first reported, and no animal from that village should be sold outside the village.

Angala said anthrax can be highly infectious and that it is carried on the hoofs of infected animals.

A fixed and fully equipped medical post with nurses and health inspectors opened in the village this week. The nurses are expected to pay vists to all schools in the area to treat learners showing symptoms of anthrax infection.

Angala is appealing to residents of communities in the Oshikoto Region to remain calm and not to panic, because all efforts were made to contain the outbreak. He further called on anyone with anthrax symptoms to report to the nearest state health facility, be it a clinic or hospital, because they are all stocked with anthrax medication.

Omadhiya, a village near the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital became the centre of attention after a woman and her 20-year-old son died of what was earlier suspected to be poisoning. However, autopsy results on the mother and son later confirmed the cause of death to have been anthrax infection.

It is only then that villagers started going to the hospital at Onandjokwe for treatment, although many had already started showing symptoms of anthrax infection. Earlier this week, Angala told New Era that at least 3 000 people were at risk of anthrax infection, having consumed the meat of affected animals.

Meanwhile, Ondangwa-based Dr Sarah Luvala said veterinarians were doing everything in their power to contain the anthrax outbreak, while awaiting results from the Central Veterinary Laboratory (CVL).

"Some animals that died showed anthrax symptoms as they had blood coming from their mouths and anus. But we also have reasons to believe that not all animals died of anthrax, since some showed different clinical signs. Based on the information that we got from the villagers, some animals died a few days after they showed symptoms, but anthrax is an acute disease, it kills within 24 hours," said Luvala.

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