Nine people exposed to Congo fever quarantined

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Petrus Muronga

Windhoek-Four people are in quarantine at the Windhoek Central Hospital after being exposed to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), while four nurses and one doctor are also being kept in isolation at Gobabis State Hospital after coming into contact with a patient that died of the tick-borne virus last week.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services Andreas Mwoombola confirmed the quarantine yesterday.

‘‘The people under isolation at Windhoek hospital are stable and parameters are in normal range,’’ said Mwoombola.

The four nurses and the doctor came into contact with the patient who died of the virus on Monday last week after complaining of coughing up blood, fever and diarrhoea for three days.

“The situation is under control and no new cases have been reported thus far,” the health ministry’s spokesperson Ester Paulus said yesterday.

She also said that the results of tests of the people in isolation in Windhoek are expected this week “to make final confirmation”.

Mwoombola said the people were tested for the virus and the medical team are still waiting for the results to confirm if they have the virus, while the medical team being quarantined in Gobabis were also reported to be doing well.

‘‘Staff under quarantine at Gobabis hospital are doing fine,’’ he affirmed. The isolation is done over five to six days.

Farmworkers at the farm where the virus originated are under surveillance and no new suspected case was reported over the weekend. “In general the situation is under control,” stressed Paulus.

Mwoombola said that before the 26-year-old man died of the virus on Monday last week he was treated and tested for malaria, which turned out negative.

‘‘After the test the victim was sent home but came back a day later complaining of the same symptoms,’’ he said.

According to Mwoombola, health workers were informed that a tick bit the person a few days before his coming to hospital.

Mwoombola said the patient, who worked at a farm in the Gobabis district, was put in isolation with supportive management but died on February 22 at around 20h00.

Currently a medical team from the ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are in the area of the farm where the deceased worked to monitor and take quarantine steps if another case surfaces.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is transmitted to people by ticks of the genus Hyalomma and through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and after slaughtering an animal. The virus is of the family Bunyaviridae.

Mwoombola cautioned the public to visit any nearest health facility if they experience symptoms ranging from fever, muscle ache to dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, sore eyes and photohobia (sensitivity to light).

‘‘If a person is bitten by a tick, it should not be taken lightly but report it to any nearby health centre,’’ cautioned Mwoombola.

Although the virus cannot be treated and there is no vaccination for it, supportive treatment can be administered.

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