By Petronella Sibeene
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that Namibia steps up its surveillance and preparedness plans, as chances of an outbreak of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF) are likely in flooded northern and northeastern areas.
RVF is a fever-causing viral disease that affects livestock and humans. It is most common during years of heavy rainfall.
Transmitted by mosquitoes, RFV is a dangerous disease that affects both livestock – including sheep, goats, cattle and humans, but is usually well-established in animal populations by the time the first human cases are observed.
Humans become infected through mosquito bites or direct contact with infected material and liquids such as animal blood during slaughtering, while uncooked milk from infected animals can also pose a risk.
No cases of human-to-human transmission have ever been reported.
While some infected people experience no detectable symptoms, others develop flu-like fever, muscle pain, headaches, joint pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and sensitivity to light.
In more severe cases, patients can also experience lesions in their eyes, neurological problems, liver impairment and haemorrhagic fever symptoms including widespread bleeding.
Last month South Africa reported cases of the disease in Mpumalanga. The disease has caused severe livestock deaths in the Rift Valley in Kenya and also in Tanzania.
“In view of the fact that flooding may also be associated with other outbreaks like malaria and RFV, and also considering that RFV affected Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa recently, surveillance should be heightened and preparedness plans be put in place,” WHO Namibia said on Friday.
Meanwhile, WHO says Namibia has to step up its infection control measures on cholera if the epidemic is to be contained.
Recently, WHO team of experts in Namibia recently conducted a cholera outbreak investigation in the regions affected by floods.
Findings reveal that there is an urgent need to adapt the surveillance system to emergency mode through the collection of data on a daily or weekly basis for outbreak surveillance purposes.
“The team found that health information from relocation camps, and outreach points is not being collected. This does not facilitate timely detection of eventual outbreaks and clear understanding of the pattern of diseases prevalent in the camps,” WHO said yesterday.
The data on the current outbreak is not monitored on a weekly basis by age, sex, place or residence, the report further said.
Cholera, the report says, can only be contained if social mobilisation, adequate public health information, education and communication are strengthened. This should be in addition to the provision of safe drinking water and appropriate sanitation.
Cholera cases continue to rise in the Ohangwena region.
He said reported cases declined during the weekend, attributing the drop to water purification tablets that were distributed.
“We will see what results we receive for today and tomorrow before we clearly state if the infection is going down,” he said.
For malaria, the figures as from November to March, Ohangwena reported 147 cases confirmed and two deaths while Omusati reported 1??????’??