Biological Hazard – Africa – Namibia

EDIS Number: BH-20120327-34678-NAM
Date / time: 27/03/2012 10:54:18 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: Africa
Country: Namibia
State/County: State of Gobabis
Location: Omaheke [Farm Kroonster 448]
Number of Deads: 3 person(s)
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A


Three workers from Farm Kroonster 448 in the Omaheke Region died in the Gobabis State Hospital last week from an illness related to anthrax. It is suspected that five farm workers of Farm Kroonster contracted anthrax after they ate meat of a cow that died on its own at that farm. Two out of the five are still being treated at the Gobabis State Hospital for an illness related to anthrax, said a nurse on duty at the hospital on condition of anonymity on Monday. The registered nurse said the two farm workers who are still admitted are in a critical condition and all movements from that ward are restricted. "You can confirm this with the hospital matron.

Even the remains of the deceased three farm workers are still being kept here in our mortuary for further laboratory investigations," she explained. Approached for comment this morning, Omaheke Regional Health Director Puumue Katjiuanjo refused to talk to this reporter. He simply commanded his two secretaries to close his office doors, and said he did not want to see or talk "to this Nampa journalist". Meanwhile, Omaheke Chief Animal Health Technician George Ruhumba of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry's Veterinary Services' Directorate, told Nampa today that business at Farm Kroonster is under restrictions for 21 days. Ruhumba said the Omaheke Veterinary Services had acted upon a request of the Ministry of Health and Social Services here to ban all livestock products entering or exiting that farm. He said there is a suspected case of anthrax at Farm Kroonster, a commercial farm, situated close to 100 kilometres east of Gobabis in the Omaheke Region. Ruhumba said although Omaheke's Veterinary Services had conducted its own tests on 19 livestock and all tested negative, restriction orders were still active. Ruhumba, who was at the farm to investigate the case, said some farm workers there started to complain of stomach pains after they ate the meat of a cow that died early this month. "Three died after two days, and two more were admitted into the Gobabis State Hospital," he told Nampa in an interview this morning at his office.

The acting Chief Veterinarian for Omaheke, Hardap and Karas Regions, Dr Emmanuel Hikufe, on 19 March this year wrote a letter to Japie Engelbrecht, the owner of the farm. The letter from Hikufe, that is in possession of this reporter, states, "according to the Gobabis State Hospital, the samples which were taken from the four people at your farm, (show) the four were exposed to anthrax". Hikufe further writes that anthrax is a disease transmissible from animals to humans, and in most cases is fatal."Therefore, according to the Disease and Parasite Act, Act 13 of 1995, should such a life-threatening disease be suspected, strict precautionary measures will be put in place until it is deemed safe." Engelbrecht has in the meantime engaged his Gobabis-based private lawyer Barend Nicolaas Venter to look for proof of the tests conducted by the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Venter, for his part, wrote on 22 March to the ministry, instructing them to give his office all the results of samples taken from the farm workers who tested positive for anthrax. Venter stated in the letter that his client, Engelbrecht, continues to suffer losses at the farm as business activities there have stopped.

Syndicated from RSOE EDIS - Emergency and Disaster Information