Hepatitis E outbreak can be contained

21 December 2017 | Health

A rare outbreak of hepatitis E virus (HEV) spread by contaminated water in Windhoek's informal settlements claimed the life of a 26-year-old mother in November, while eight other patients have tested positive to date.

Namibia's first confirmed outbreak of HEV, a waterborne disease that can be prevented through good sanitation and the availability of clean drinking water, was more than 30 years ago at Rundu in 1983.

The last outbreak was also reported at Rundu between 1995 and 1996.

Minister of health Bernhard Haufiku says the main prevention tool to contain the outbreak is personal hygiene, including washing hands as often as possible and disinfecting water before drinking it.

He also cautions against hysteria, noting that at this stage, the outbreak can still be contained and the key focus is to ensure affected communities improve basic sanitation and hygiene.

Since October, a total of 26 patients from informal settlements in Windhoek presented with symptoms of liver disease, of which nine have tested positive for HEV. Four were negative and eight results are still pending.

The 26-year-old mother died shortly after giving birth to a healthy baby on 19 November. The baby survived, authorities confirmed yesterday at a press briefing.

An outbreak is defined as more than five confirmed cases of HEV from the same area.

All 26 patients live in one of Windhoek's informal housing areas which are at high risk of waterborne diseases, including HEV.

The majority of patients are from Havana (16), while six live in Goreangab, and the rest in Greenwell Matongo, Ombili, and Hakahana.

Apart from one, all have been discharged from hospital.

On 14 December, a hepatitis E outbreak was officially declared and emergency task teams set to work.

The newly appointed acting permanent secretary for the health ministry, Petronella Masabane, said she was confident that the emergency teams, including health outreach workers in the communities and global partners, were equipped to respond to the outbreak.

She said the outbreak can be contained but it is vital that affected residents are made aware of the ways in which they can drastically reduce their risk of infection.

Experts note that the festive season increases the risk of the disease continuing to spread, as families and friends get together in large numbers.

Clean drinking water and sanitation, including frequent hand washing, are crucial in containing the rate of infection, authorities say.

The virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated drinking water, and the disease is most common in areas with limited access to water, sanitation, hygiene and health services.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “the risk factors for hepatitis E are related to poor sanitation, allowing virus excreted in the faeces of infected people to reach drinking water supplies.”

Health authorities are urging residents to ensure they frequently wash their hands before and after using bathrooms, handling food, changing nappies or shaking hands. People should keep their homes clean and purify their drinking water.

The WHO also recommends that authorities ensure that residents have access to quality water supply and that proper disposal systems for human faeces are provided to help reduce the risk of HEV outbreaks.

Symptoms include jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, pale-coloured stool, joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

Health officials urge anyone presenting with these symptoms to go to the nearest health facility.

Most people with hepatitis E recover completely and the fatality rate is about 1% for the general population.

However, for pregnant women, hepatitis E can be a serious illness, with mortality reaching 10%–30% in their third trimester of pregnancy.

Hepatitis E could also be serious among persons with pre-existing chronic liver disease or persons with suppressed immune systems.


Similar News


Okahandja clinic dumps medical waste

3 days ago - 16 April 2018 | Health

Residents of Okahandja are facing a health risk following continued dumping of medical waste behind the Okahandja clinic. Namibian Sun found a mountain of garbage...

Medipark takes safe motherhood campaign to Eenhana

6 days ago - 13 April 2018 | Health

Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region will host this year's safe motherhood campaign offered by the Medipark private hospital on 2 June.The campaign educates pregnant women...

Pastor tells his story

1 week ago - 10 April 2018 | Health

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) pastor that has battled a rare skin condition for 31 years, has published a book detailing his struggle...

State care beckons for PSEMAS members

2 weeks ago - 03 April 2018 | Health

A countrywide survey of private medical practitioners has revealed that more than 20% are adamant they will not sign the new contract with the Public...

Aagandji yomayakulo guundjolowele yopaumwene oyendji kaye na ohokwe okulongela...

2 weeks ago - 03 April 2018 | Health

Omapekaapeko nomapulaapulo ngoka ga ningilwa oondohotola dhopaumwene oshowo aagandji yomayakulo guunamiti yopaumwene konyala moshilongo ashihe, oopresenda dhi vulithe po 20 odha holola kutya itadhi ka...

WHO advises against SA ban

3 weeks ago - 28 March 2018 | Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against a trade ban on meat products from South Africa as a result of the deadly listeriosis outbreak.The...

Deep-seated health challenges

3 weeks ago - 26 March 2018 | Health

The ministry of health's goal to provide quality healthcare to all has been an uphill battle since independence, with notable achievements along the way -...

Haufiku puts in 12-hour shift

3 weeks ago - 23 March 2018 | Health

The spirit of service was celebrated in true style when health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku worked a 12-hour shift at the Katutura State Hospital's casualty...

So long, vienna

1 month - 19 March 2018 | Health

Several towns have responded swiftly to the outbreak of listeriosis in neighbouring South Africa and now Namibia. The bacterial contamination, which has been traced to...

Etukuko lyo listeriosis tali kandekwa

1 month - 19 March 2018 | Health

Oondoolopa dhimwe po oya yamukula mendelelelo ketukulo lyombakitelia yolisteriosis moshishiindalongo South Africa oshowo moshilongo.Omukithi ngoka guuzigo wiikulya, okwa dhidhilikwa tagu adhika moonyama dha kwewa...

Latest News

Johannes promoted following gold

18 hours ago | Sports

Gold medallist Helalia Johannes has been promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two with immediate effect, after she won Namibia’s second gold medal...

Etosha debacle sparks national probe

18 hours ago | Environment

The environment ministry has launched a full-scale investigation at the Deeds Office in Windhoek to determine whether there is any privately owned land in Namibia's...

Acute teacher shortage

18 hours ago | Economics

The education ministry has appealed for leniency and recognition that despite the directive to reduce state wage bills the ministry is in dire need of...

Africa briefs

18 hours ago | Economics

SA's auditor general cancels all contracts with KPMGSouth Africa’s Auditor General said on Tuesday he is terminating all contracts with auditing firm KPMG over a...

NovaNam, Lalandii start new hake...

18 hours ago | Business

Staff reporter - Last week, Lüderitz-based hake fishing companies, NovaNam and Lalandii, commenced with the cutting of the steel to build the...

Ondonga heir apparent hits back...

18 hours ago | Cultural

One of the claimants to the Ondonga throne, Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo, has taken issue with urban and rural development minister Peya Mushelenga following his recent...

PM warns employees of shorter...

18 hours ago | Government

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila this week warned staff members of her office that she would not accept complacency and that she would shorten the leash...

40 years after battle of...

18 hours ago | History

The Angolan president, João Lourenço will attend the Cassinga Day commemoration on 4 May as guest of honour and will lay a wreath at Heroes'...

New conservancy land disputed

18 hours ago | Environment

A Kavango West man has accused the Uukwangali Traditional Authority of stealing his land, which he claimed was now allocated to a newly proclaimed conservancy....

Load More