Ministry of Health declares measles epidemic in Samoa

Samoa’s Ministry of Health has declared the country is now facing a measles epidemic after results from samples sent to Australia for urgent testing have confirmed seven cases.

The confirmation comes after the Samoa Observer revealed over the weekend that health authorities reported 16 suspected cases and the death of a one-year-old baby boy on White Sunday.

In a statement released today, the MOH said 28 specimens of suspected measles cases were sent to Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory Melbourne, Australia on September 30. The results for 12 cases were received over the weekend with four confirmed cases: one adult and three children. 

The Ministry said the one adult and three children were treated and released without complications. 

On October 2, another eight samples were sent for urgent testing for measles, with the results received confirming three confirmed cases. The three confirmed cases comprised two children under the age of five and an adult aged 22 years. The three patients were treated and discharged. 

“A total of seven confirmed cases have been reported to date. In anticipation, we now confirm a Measles Epidemic,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The death of the baby boy over the weekend is also a suspected case of measles with the Ministry saying it is 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.”

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The MOH has appealed to the public to get vaccinated against measles with the administering of the vaccine available at all health facilities, including the TTM Hospital Motootua and MTII Hospital Tuasivi.

The Ministry’s main Immunization Clinic at TTM Hospital Motootua opens Mondays to Fridays from 8.00am–8.00pm daily and Saturdays from 8.00am–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 has also been urged to take preventative measures to control the spread of measles. The following precaution are encouraged:

• 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 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 centre if child’s condition becomes worse.

• Cover your nose when coughing or sneezing or wear a mask. Do not share beddings, clothes, drinks etc. 

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

This is a developing story.

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