Health authorities on measles alert

Further tests are being done in Australia to confirm one "likely to be positive" case of measles in Samoa.

This was confirmed by the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, yesterday saying that a total of 38 samples of suspected measles cases have been sent to Melbourne Australia for testing.

The majority of the suspected cases are children below the ages of four and are mostly from the urban area.

"We have sent over 25 samples last week and 13 samples [this week], these are all suspected cases," he said.

"So far, we have one case that they say is confirmed but we need the reconfirmation of the lab tests, [due to] contact, it is an adult.

"Contact of a person from New Zealand that came down for 3-5 days and left, but we are still taking a lot of precautions."

Leausa said the Ministry is taking every precaution to safeguard the country against an outbreak.

"It's better to be prepared ahead. So we are working closely with our border control and border health officials, understanding that if there is someone that brings it now, we might as well contain it there, as much as possible.

"But then, if it gets to the center of this island and our population, then it will spread like fire."

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The last time there was a measles outbreak in Samoa was in 1985, according to the Director General.

He could not confirm if there were any casualties.

In the meantime, issued a warning for parents to watch out for the symptoms of the virus which includes, fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes, and a rash.

The easiest way for the virus to be contracted is through close contact, especially when an infected person is sneezing.

He used the chance to encourage parents to bring in their children to be immunised to keep them safe and less vulnerable to the virus, especially if they are planning to travel overseas, specifically Auckland New Zealand.

Parents are advised to rethink their trips during these times of the outbreak.

"We are all at risk of that, especially our young children who have not received [immunization].

"So we have a lot of catch up in immunization, we are now opening our immunization clinic from Monday to Friday (8am-8pm) and then Saturday (8am-12pm.)

"We are also hoping to open in town, where we used to have the old Non-Communicable Diseases clinic, for easy access to the parents."

In hopes to boost the immunization rates and prevention from contracting the virus, the Ministry are also considering decreasing the ideal age of receiving MMR for the children from 12 months to 6 months.

"Minimize going to gatherings because you can contract it from someone and we have also discouraged our patients from taking their children to New Zealand for now, especially going to Auckland for now."

Seasonal workers have also been considered by the Ministry saying they are requesting the World Health Organization for medicine for these people to boost their immunity to the virus while they are away in New Zealand for work.

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