Congo fever claims another life

11 August 2017 | Health

A 63-year-old man died from Congo fever on Wednesday, raising the death toll from the tick-borne disease to two this year, health authorities confirmed yesterday.

The victim hails from Uukwandongo in the Okahao district of the Omusati Region.

The first Congo fever death took place in February this year when a man from the Omaheke Region died.

Three other people who had been in close contact with the latest victim have been admitted to the Windhoek Central Hospital's isolation ward and are being monitored daily.

According to the acting permanent secretary of the health ministry, Bertha Katjivena, the patient was admitted to the isolation ward on Monday after he had been transferred from a private hospital last week.

“On behalf of the minister and the ministry I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and friends,” said Katjivena. According to her, the patient is suspected to have been bitten by a tick a week and half ago. She added that ministry officials were working with other ministries, including the ministry of agriculture and veterinary services, to conduct investigations in the Omusati Region in the area where the deceased lived.

Congo fever is transmitted through a tick bite. Handling ticks with bare hands, or having direct contact with infected animal blood and organs, including slaughtering tick-infested animals, increases the risk.

The first cases in Namibia were reported in 1986, one at Grootfontein, two in Windhoek, two at Gobabis, and one at Karasburg.

One further case was reported in 1998 and two in 2001.

One of those deaths was Nick van der Merwe, the owner of the farm Harnas, today home to the Harnas Wildlife Foundation.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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