The outbreak of hepatitis E that started in Sept. 2017 in Windhoek, Namibia continues, with a steady decline in trend. To date, a cumulative total of 957 cases and 10 deaths have been reported through Mar. 11.

Namibia Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/ Alvaro1984 18

Seven deaths have been reported in the past month prompting health officials to urge pregnant women who display symptoms of hepatitis E to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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.

The outbreak of hepatitis E in Windhoek, Namibia has been steadily declining following strong interventions by the national authorities and partners.  Some of the key interventions include increasing the piped water distribution network in the city suburbs, dredging of river beds, and construction of public toilets.

The World Health Organization says despite the gains so far, several challenges still exist, including the mushrooming illegal informal settlements. The latrine/toilet coverage remains low, with over 62% of people practicing open defecation and about 12% still using contaminated water sources.