Namibia records fatal case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
Namibian authorities have reported a fatal case of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and said they’re following at least 27 contacts for possible exposure, with two dozen health workers counted among them.
The male patient fell ill in Gobabis, a town not far from Namibia’s eastern border with Botswana, according to a statement from Ben Nangombe, executive director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The man was transferred to other facilities for care and admitted to an isolation unit at Windhoek Central Hospital, where he died on May 18.
Namibia says it has seen six cases of CCHF since April 2016. In Senegal, an April 2023 case was confirmed in a 35-year-old butcher living in Guédiawaye, just northeast of Dakar, after he reported fever and flu-like symptoms. The man also died from the infection.
CCHF is a hemorrhagic disease, similar to Ebola, that causes about 500 fatalities each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is endemic in all of Africa as well as the Middle East and Asia. Its presence in eastern Europe was first identified in Crimea in the 1940s, with a later discovery making the connection to the same infection found in the Congo River basin.
The disease is transmitted by ticks and infected animals, and results in death in roughly 40% of cases. About 70% of people diagnosed with CCHF have a history of a tick bite. Although the disease is transmitted to humans from ticks and animals, it’s possible for outbreaks of human-to-human cases to emerge, as was the case last year in Iraq. Uganda reported eight cases between June and December 2022.
Cases associated with butcher shops, including cattle, sheep, goats and ostrich are not uncommon, with WHO recommending masks and other personal protective gear for people who work as butchers. It’s also recommended that animals be quarantined and treated with flea and tick pesticides before slaughter.
There is not yet a vaccine to prevent CCHF, although one has been tried in eastern Europe on a small scale, WHO said.
Image: EPA file/Patrick Pleul via WHO