THE health ministry yesterday declared Congo fever an outbreak after the death of a Keetmanshoop man at the Windhoek Central Hospital on Tuesday, and the hospitalisation of two others.
Health minister Bernard Haufiku confirmed the death of 37-year-old Hendrik Hartebees yesterday.
He said the case registered on Tuesday could be regarded as an outbreak, "according to the World Health Organisation guidelines".
Windhoek central hospital superintendent Dr David Uirab also confirmed the hospitalisation of two other people from Keetmanshoop and Gobabis at the institution.
Haufiku said Hartebees died at the Windhoek Central Hospital, where he was quarantined.
The deceased had assisted a neighbour to slaughter a cow "that was infested with ticks on 21 March 2018, and presented with symptoms on 27 March".
According to the health ministry, Congo fever is transmitted mainly through tick bites, handling or working with an infected animal's blood, and can also be transmitted from one infected person to another by contact with infectious blood or body fluids.
A person with Congo fever can have the sudden onset of high fever, headache, back and joint pain, abdominal pain and neck pain, among other symptoms.
Congo fever can be transmitted through tick bites or handling ticks with bare hands, and through direct contact with infected people or animal blood and organs, "including the slaughter of animals with ticks attached".
The latest case registered on Tuesday was the second Congo fever case recorded so far this year.
Another man was diagnosed with the symptoms of Congo fever at the Windhoek Central Hospital in February this year.
/Uirab yesterday said the patient from Gobabis was successfully treated, and had been discharged from the hospital. He added that people who had contact with the patient were also treated, and tested negative for symptoms of the disease.
The disease also killed a farmworker (26) from Gobabis, and an older man from Uukwandongo in the Okahao district in the Omusati region last year.
Haufiku said health experts had been deployed at Keetmanshoop, "tracing contacts", and that a rapid response team has been dispatched to the Keetmanshoop district to assess the situation in that area.
Officials from the veterinary services department of the agriculture ministry are also part of the response team.