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26 Nov 2019 | 07:06 PM UTC

Samoa: Death toll rises from measles outbreak November 26 /update 1

Officials confirm at least 32 fatalities as of November 26 due to a nationwide measles outbreak; ensure measles vaccination is up to date

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Event

The Samoan government confirmed on Tuesday, November 26, that at least 32 people have died due to the current measles outbreak - the majority being children aged 4 and under. It has recorded 2437 cases since the outbreak began. Vaccination against the disease is a mandatory legal requirement. Ministry of Health officials report having successfully vaccinated 24,000 people since the Mass Vaccination Campaign began on Wednesday, November 20.

The Samoan government declared a state of emergency on Friday, November 15. Government officials ordered the indefinite closure of all schools, including high schools and universities, and has forbidden public gatherings of children up to the age of 17. The state of emergency also stipulates that no child under the age of 18 can visit any medical facility unless they require medical attention.

While the government said that the situation is not expected to affect business for public servants, some business disruptions are still possible. Further spread of the disease is possible in the near term.

Context

The Samoan Ministry of Health declared a nationwide measles epidemic on Wednesday, October 16. Samoa has a low immunization rate of 31 percent.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that typically affects mostly children. It is transmitted via droplets from the nose, mouth, or throat of infected persons. Symptoms of measles are usually a high fever, which begins approximately ten to 12 days after exposure to the virus and lasts four to seven days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over the course of about three days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for five to six days and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of seven to 18 days). A vaccine is available.

Advice

Individuals in Samoa are advised to ensure their measles vaccination is up to date (including booster shots) and to contact their doctor with any questions or concerns. Anyone experiencing the above symptoms is urged to seek immediate medical attention.