Published: Fri, November 29, 2019
Medical | By

Samoa measles outbreak: More children dead as death toll hits 42

Samoa measles outbreak: More children dead as death toll hits 42

The government said the number of fatalities had climbed to 39 and the total number of infections was 2,936, up 250 in a 24-hour period.

Director of nursing Jocelyn Peach said the nurses' response to the measles outbreak in Auckland and in Samoa had played a huge part in combating the disease.

Another six children have died due to measles in the last day, as a severe outbreak continues to spread in Samoa.

Since Samoa's mass vaccination campaign started on November 20, at least 24,000 people have been immunized against measles.

Samoa's top health official has said the epidemic is yet to peak.

The team flew out from Manchester Airport today and are expected to arrive in Samoa on Sunday.

Radio New Zealand reports all but four of the deaths are children under the age of four, including the six who died in the past 24 hours.

The Samoan government has scrambled to vaccinate a quarter of the population (57,000 out of 200,000) since the outbreak began.

But it is the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country also battling Ebola, that has seen the largest measles outbreak.

Misinformation about the safety of vaccines, she said, "has had a very remarkable impact on the immunization program" in Samoa. Once infected, there is no specific treatment for measles, so vaccination is a life-saving tool for children.

That includes a third rotation of the emergency medical assistance team, more nurse vaccinators, up to 15 intensive care specialists, and Samoan-speaking doctors and nurses.

Maidaborn says another essential way New Zealanders can help the situation in Samoa is to make sure, if they are travelling to and from Samoa, they are vaccinated.

The message Wilson wanted to share with New Zealanders was to be supportive of the vaccination programme.

Petousis-Harris said the epidemic had been exacerbated by a delay of more than four weeks between the first measles case and the declaration of a state of emergency.

Samoa's government has declared a state of emergency on the island, closing schools, banning children from public places and ordering everyone to have jabs.

Andrea Chapman, a Kiwi nurses, said in a statement published on November 27th "We're educating people that the vaccination takes 14 days until it is fully effective".

"New Zealand is also looking to provide psychological support for health workers in Samoa, who have been confronted with some distressing cases in very demanding conditions, and communities that have been affected by the health crisis".

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