Country urged to take preventative action in fight against measles epidemic

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) has declared a measles epidemic in Samoa after seven samples sent to Australia for testing came back positive with the virus.

In a statement released midday yesterday, the Ministry of Health confirmed that of 20 samples that were returned, two adults and five children had measles. 

"All have been treated and discharged with no complications," the statement reads.

The samples were sent to the Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory in Melbourne September 30 and October 2 for urgent testing.

The Ministry is still waiting to learn whether the one year old who died on Sunday succumbed to measles. 

He was admitted to the paediatric isolation unit in the national hospital, where other highly suspected cases of measles were being quarantined and treated.

The child, who was admitted on Monday October 8, had a “history of febrile convulsions, cough and skin rash typical of measles associated with severe dehydration," the statement reads.

"Verification of immunization status for this child revealed that he [had] not been vaccinated against measles."

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

The 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 Ministry consequently advised that the following precautions should be taken:

  • Avoid overcrowded living environments and engaging in public gatherings

  • Keep children home from school if sick.

  • Ensure vaccination status of your child is up to date for all vaccine preventable diseases.

  • It is important to stay calm and not to panic. Take Panadol or paracetamol syrup (for children) if having fever and apply cool sponging.

  • Ensure to drink plenty of fluids and maintain good hydration.

  • Seek medical advice at your nearest health center if child’s condition becomes worse.

  • Cover your nose when coughing or sneezing or wear a mask.

  • Do not share bedding, clothes, drinks etc.

  • For further information on measles please contact the nearest Health facility.

  • Good hand washing using soap and clean water after sneezing and coughing and when caring for the sick.

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. 

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