Early healthcare mitigates hepatitis mortality

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Alvine Kapitako
Windhoek

The Ministry of Health and Social Services has urged pregnant women who display symptoms of hepatitis E to seek medical attention as soon as possible to decrease their chances of dying.

Since the outbreak of the disease last October, ten cases of hepatitis E-related deaths were recorded, the latest being that of a 25-year-old woman who died six days after she gave birth.

Dr Lilliane Kahuika at the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ epidemiology division yesterday said five maternal deaths have so far been linked to the disease. The sixth woman was neither pregnant nor nursing a baby. In addition, four men died.

“The emphasis is on pregnant women to seek healthcare as soon as they have signs of hepatitis E because they can get very sick and die,” said Kahuika. Hepatitis E symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Nevertheless, the number of cases has decreased since the outbreak and by Sunday, 957 cases were recorded.
Out of this, 100 are lab confirmed, 657 are epidemiologically linked and 198 are suspected cases.

Havana and Goreangab informal settlements remain the most affected with 54 percent and 25 percent of the cases recorded in those areas respectively.

In week 9, which was from February 28 to March 4, 48 cases were recorded. In week 10, from March 5 to 11, a total of 44 cases were recorded.
The weekly cases for week 11 (this week) are still not available, said Kahuika.

“This is not an overnight process. We hope to see that the cases continue going down and that people will clean up after themselves. The fact that there is a decrease means we are doing something right,” said Kahuika.
She also said that people should guard against vandalising property, especially public toilets and taps. “Vandalism is one of our biggest problems,” added Kahuika.

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