Municipality goes public over Hepatitis-E outbreak in WalvisBay

The Municipality of Walvis Bay would like to notify residents of the outbreak of Hepatitis E in the Walvis Bay District. In November 2017, the Ministry of Health and Social Services declared a Hepatitis E outbreak in Windhoek and since then cases have been reported in other regions. In the Erongo region, the outbreak has been reported in Swakopmund, Omaruru, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay as stated by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. More than 5 laboratory confirmed cases in a month constitute an outbreak and Walvis Bay has reported more than 5 laboratory confirmed cases.

The Municipality of Walvis Bay took immediate action in response and launch-ed campaigns to create awareness on food safety and good personal hygiene practices among residents and informal food traders in Walvis Bay. To date, the campaigns have been a great success as the public and informal food traders welcomed the information sharing and were very eager to participate.
The Health Section is monitoring activities at the informal trade areas and settlements and will carry out intensive health education sessions and information sharing within the next few weeks. Distribution of chlorine and soap for personal hygiene is under-way as well as the distribution of a designed leaflet covering two issues: the importance of hand washing, and street food safety. The leaflets are in English and Oshiwambo.
Although there are re-ported cases, there is no need for panic as the situation is being monitored and managed with the message that prevention is the most effective approach against the disease. Cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders has resulted in a committee with representatives of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Municipality, Welwitschia Hospital, Tunacor, Hangana Fishing, African Selection Management, Gendev, Sea-work and Pereira Sea-food to tackle the Walvis Bay outbreak. The Health Section of the Municipality will continue to communicate with the Ministry of Health and Social Services with regards to the outbreak and the current status in Walvis Bay.
What is Hepatitis E: Hetitis E is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis E virus (HEV). The disease is serious especially for pregnant women and those with a low immune system. This virus is usually spread via the faecal-oral route and can be found in contaminated drinking water, and food including fruit, vegetables and meat.
Prevent measures of Hepatitis E: Washing your hands before and after using the toilet or changing a baby nappy; before and after preparing food; wash your food and meats properly and cook them well; disinfect your toilets and keep your cooking utensils clean; wash your water storage containers every time it is empty and carry them in clean, covered containers; only drink and cook with cooled boiled water; use clean cooking pots, plates and utensils; only eat food and drink water from places where you trust that the food is cleaned before preparation and is cooked properly; while shopping, disinfect trolleys and your hands when touching shared objects; when coming home from playing or for instance after riding in a taxi or from outside wash your hands.
Signs and symptoms of Hepatitis E: symptoms may take 2-10 weeks to appear after being exposed to the Hepatitis E Virus. If you have these symptoms or know some-one, please visit the nearest clinic or doctor to be tested: yellow eyes and skin; fever; tired; pain in joints; loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting; stomach cramps; dark colour urine; light co-lour stools.

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