KEETMANSHOOP, 07 APR – While animal herders and livestock, slaughterhouse and healthcare workers in endemic areas are particularly at risk of contracting Congo Fever, caution should be exercised by everyone in the //Kharas Region.
This was the general message at a meeting held in Keetmanshoop on Friday to update health officials on the Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever outbreak in //Kharas.
A 37-year-old man from Keetmanshoop died on 27 March after he was diagnosed with the disease. The man was bitten by a tick while he was busy helping his neighbour to slaughter a cow.
Speaking at the meeting, Keetmanshoop State Hospital chief medical officer Doctor Rudolf Kooper said Congo Fever is caused by the Hyalomma tick which is usually found in domestic animals.
The disease is caused by a tick-borne virus and causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks.
The virus is primarily transmitted to people from ticks and livestock animals or through human-to-human transmission from close contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
Kooper said animal herders and livestock, slaughterhouse and healthcare workers in endemic areas are particularly at risk of contracting Congo Fever.
“Is sad that we do not have a vaccine for this virus for both human and animals,” Kooper said.
The best way to prevent contracting Congo Fever is to avoid contact with an infected person, avoid touching infected corpses and quarantining animals before they enter slaughterhouses or routinely treat animals with pesticides two weeks prior to slaughter, he said.
The//Kharas Region Director of Health, Bartholomeus Muntenda added that the whole //Kharas community is at risk of being infected with the fever.
“We are all at risk, not only those on farms or at slaughterhouses. You do not know which tick is infected with the virus so let us be vigilant,” Muntenda said.
Symptoms of Congo Fever include fever, myalgia (muscle ache), dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and sensitivity to light. There may be nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.
People who suspect they might be infected should seek medical attention immediately.