Namibia: Drought Linked to Congo Fever Outbreak

(file photo).

ONGWEDIVA - The ongoing drought which is causing displeasure of animal movement in the country could be the cause of the recently reported outbreak of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) in Oshikoto Region.

The cases of CCHF reported at Ontananga village in Oshikoto Region, mark the first cases of this virus being ever reported in the central-northern as well as the eastern-northern regions of the country.

So far, three suspected cases are reported with Onandjokwe Hospital, of which one case has been confirmed and one of the suspected but not confirmed victims died upon arrival at the hospital.

Those suspected of being infected with the virus are said to be doing well.

The directorate of health as well as the veterinary in Oshikoto is hard at work, ensuring they investigate and contain the virus, which officials say is under control.

It is suspected the roaming of animals in search of better grazing pastures could be the reason for an outbreak.

According to the Dr Siraji Saad Rwehumbiza who is the Oshikoto Regional Head Chairman on the case, CCHF is a disease caused by a virus which is transmitted by infected ticks or from human to human.

Once a tick bites an infected animal, a human being can also get infected if he/she gets bitten by the same tick.

From human beings, the virus is transmitted through body fluids, including blood, vomit, urine and other body fluids. CCHF is a deadly disease which is the same group as Ebola.

The two diseases have similar symptoms. The common symptoms include excessive headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, bleeding and vomiting.

Dr Rwehumbiza has clarified a person may also have similar symptoms but that does not mean that one is indeed infected by CCHF. Similarly, not all tick bites are viewed as Congo Fever cases as not all ticks carry the virus.

"That tick must first be infected by an animal that has a virus, and one has to be in direct contact with an infected person to also get infected with the virus," he said.

Rwehumbiza however warned that people should not remove ticks when they are bitten but they should urgently seek medical attention from the nearest medical centres.

He further warned those that came in contact with suspected victims or show some symptoms of CCHF should also urgently seek medical attention.

He maintained that veterinary too can trace the origin of the animals that came in the area where the disease was observed -where they came from and where they went when they left the area.

"But the tracing of animal is the work of the veterinary and not the ministry of health."

A Keetmanshoop resident was the last case reported to have died from Congo Fever.

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