By: Vetondouua Tjivikua
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula says the ministry has recorded 3454 cases of human scabies countrywide from January 2022 to date.
This comes after 93 schools in the Ohangwena region reported an outbreak of scabies last week.
Shangula announced this on Monday at a press conference in Windhoek.
Shangula said the ministry conducted an assessment to determine the magnitude of this medical condition. It revealed that Kunene recorded a number of 1 418 cases Ohangwena 708, Otjozondjupa 402, Kavango West 375, Kavango East 204, Omusati 130, Oshana 104, Omaheke 46, Hardap 20, Oshikoto 20, Erongo 17, Karas 10.
He said at the same time, Khomas and Zambezi did not report any scabies cases.
According to Shangula, the most affected populations are communities living along the northern borders, school learners in the affected regions and migrant populations in urban areas where access to water and sanitation facilities is lacking or inadequate.
Shangula further urged the public to maintain good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing.
”The public is urged to remain calm and comply with the preventive measures to contain and prevent further transmission of scabies,” he said.
Human scabies is a parasitic infestation caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin and lays eggs, eventually triggering a host immune response that leads to intense itching and rash.
”The current transmission of scabies has moved from households to schools with water supply challenges and where personal hygiene practices are less than adequate,” he added.
According to Shangula, scabies is usually transmitted from person to person through close skin contact, for example living in the same residence with an infested individual. The risk of transmission increases with the level of infestations, with the highest risk due to contact with individuals with crusted scabies, he said.
”As there is an asymptomatic infestation period, the transmission may occur before the initially infected person develops symptoms. The incubation period can be up to eight weeks” Shangula said.
He added that the treatment of scabies involves the elimination of the infestation by medication using several creams and lotions, Isolation of infested individuals from common sleeping areas, schools, work, disinfection of clothing and beddings, he said.
He added that further investigations are ongoing to establish the magnitude and cause of scabies transmission.
The MOHSS teams in the affected regions have activated public health measures in partnership with the education ministry.
”All detected cases are undergoing treatment in the health facilities. The public is urged to remain calm and comply with the preventive measures to contain and prevent further transmission of scabies,” Shangula said.
Shangula also added that the state health facilities have been reporting cases of scabies in the past, particularly in the northern regions.
However, as of October 2021, he said several scabies cases had been reported throughout the country.