False alarm: ‘No Congo Fever in Oshikoto’

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Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya-Oshikoto regional health director Peter Angala has allayed fears that have caused widespread concern among the local communities in the region regarding the purported outbreak of the deadly Congo fever virus after one person, who was reportedly bitten by a tick, died at Omuntele last Friday.

The tickbite compelled the Health Ministry to take necessary precautions, as it conducted a post-mortem examination to determine if the person had in fact died as a result of the virus formally known as the Crimean–Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHFV).

“It was just a suspected case of a patient that was bitten by a tick and died on Friday, so we had to take blood samples and the results came out and confirmed negative. We were just vigilant enough to monitor such cases until proven otherwise, that’s why we had to take care of the situation and treated it as a suspected case,” Angala explained.

On Tuesday health officials visited Omuntele shortly after they received the results from the laboratory to inform residents that the laboratory tests came out negative and to assure residents that there was no need to panic over the false Congo Fever alarm.

Two cases were detected recently in Omaheke Region, where a 26-year-old man reportedly died from the dreaded Congo Fever. New Era last week reported that those were not the first cases of Congo Fever in Namibia, as the first such case was reported early in 1989.

CCHFV infections mainly occurred in the eastern half of the country at the time. There were similar cases reported in 1998 and two in 2001.

A total of four cases came from tickbites, with a 50 percent survival rate among the victims. Common symptoms of CCHFV include headaches, high fever, backpain, joint pain, stomach pain and vomiting, as well as red eyes, inflamed throat and red spots.

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