Update on the Measles Outbreak in Samoa

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The Ministry of Health has issued an update to the measles epidemic stating that they have been notified of 169 suspected cases of measles over the past month with 153 in Upolu and 16 suspected cases eported from Savaii.

“Of the 169 suspected, 7 cases have been confirmed for measles as of last week with 83 additional specimen results are pending including the one suspected measles related death.

The Minsitry of Health declared a measles epidemic last week when 7 out of 20 specimens of suspected measles cases sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia returned back positive.

This week the number of suspected cases rises to 169 and 83 specimens have been sent for testing.

A tragic case of a one year old death two weeks ago was a highly suspected case of measles based on clinical assessment and evaluation, however the Ministry says in a press release today that they are still awaiting laboratory confirmation.

“The deceased child of one year two months was admitted on the 8th October 2019 with a history of febrile convulsions, cough and skin rash typical of measles associated with severe dehydration. Verification of immunization status for this child revealed that he has not been vaccinated against measles.”

In the latest report issued today, the Ministry confirms that 2 adults and 5 children are still admitted at the Motootua hospital while no admissions have been reported from MTII Hospital in Savaii.

“Of the 169 suspected cases 49 (30%) were admitted to TTM hospital, with the majority recovered and subsequently discharged home”, reads the statement.

The Ministry says that the mjority of people affected are children below 10 years of age as well as those aged between 20 to 30 years.

The Ministry of Health had called to get vaccinated against measles.

“Vaccination against measles is available at all health facilities including TTM Hospital Motootua and MTII Hospital Tuasivi.”

“Our main Immunization Clinic at TTM Hospital Motootua opens Mondays to Fridays from 8.00am – 8.00pm daily and Saturdays from 8.00 am – 1.00pm.”

“The Immunization Clinic for MTII Hospital Tuasivi, also opens Mondays to Fridays from 8.00am – 8.00pm and Saturdays from 8.00 am – 1.00pm.”

The public is hereby reminded that it is important to take preventative measures to control the spread of measles. The following precautions is advised:

1. Avoid overcrowded living environments and engaging in public gatherings
2. Keep children home from school if sick.
3. The working public is advise to stay home if showing sign and symptoms of Measles
4. Ensure vaccination status of your child is up to date for all vaccine preventable diseases.
5. Children 6 months of age upwards are encourage to be vaccinated.
6. It is important to stay calm and not to panic. Take panadols or paracetamol syrup (for children) if having fever and apply cool sponging.
7. Ensure to drink plenty of fluids and maintain good hydration
8. Pregnant mothers to take extra precautions in protecting themselves.
9. Seek medical advice at your nearest health center if child’s condition becomes worse.
10. Cover your nose when coughing or sneezing or wear a mask
11. Do not share beddings, clothes, drinks etc,etc
12. Good hand washing using soap and clean water after sneezing and coughing and when caring for the sick.

For further information on measles please contact nearest Health facility or call Dr Robert Thomsen on 66503 or Tevaga Dr Ponifasio Ponifasio on 66500 or Dr Sarah Brown on 66723 or your healthcare provider.

Of the 28 specimens of suspected measles cases sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory Melbourne, Australia on the 30th Sept 2019, twelve (12) results have been received over the week end. Of these twelve there were four confirmed cases; one adult and three children. All have been treated and discharged with no complications.

On the 2nd of October 2019, we sent another 8 specimens of suspected measles cases. Current results received this afternoon of these eight specimens sent revealed three new confirmed cases. Of these three positive cases, two were children under five years and 1 was an adult of 22 years old. All have been treated and discharged.

A total of seven confirmed cases have been reported to date. In anticipation, we now confirm a Measles Epidemic.

For further information, please contact Dr Robert Thomsen on 66503 or Tevaga Dr Ponifasio Ponifasio on 66500 or Dr Sarah Brown on 66723 or your healthcare provider.