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September 27, 2020

Samoa declares measles epidemic

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Samoa’s government has declared the country is facing a measles epidemic after results from samples sent to Australia have confirmed as measles cases.

Local media, the Samoa Observer, has reported that 28 samples of suspected measles cases were sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory Melbourne, Australia, last month on September 30.

Of these specimens, 12 cases were received recently over the weekend, with four confirmed cases.

According to the Samoa Health Ministry, the confirmed cases comprises of an adult and three children who were later treated and released.

However, earlier this month, three more measles cases were confirmed, after another eight samples were sent for urgent testing, Samoa Observer reported. These three patients were also treated and released. This has brought the total number of measles cases to seven.

However, the death of a one-year-old child recently, is yet to be confirmed as a suspected measles case.

The government of Samoa has made measles vaccinations available at all health facilities and has urged the public to get vaccinated.

According to WHO, measles is one of the world’s most contagious diseases and spreads more quickly among children. People of any age group who have not been immunized are more likely to be easily affected by the measles disease.

WHO reports have revealed, in 2017, the measles disease has caused close to 110,000 deaths globally, most of these cases were children under the age of five years.

PNG experienced a measles outbreak between 2014 and 2015, with over 70,000 suspected cases and over 2,000 confirmed cases according to WHO reports, with 362 deaths. In 2017 and 2018, more cases were reported.

However, since the polio outbreak in 2018, the PNG government has taken preventative measures in assuring all health facilities have provided polio, measles and rubella vaccinations for the public, especially targeting children under the age of five.

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