Published: Wed, December 04, 2019

Wellington bus drivers raising money for Samoa's measles patients

Wellington bus drivers raising money for Samoa's measles patients

"While it seems like a bit of light hearted fun this is a serious issue and 55 people have already died from the measles outbreak which is devastating for Samoan communities".

The World Health Organisation warned of a "slide back" in global efforts to eliminate measles Tuesday, as the death toll from an outbreak that has killed dozens of children in Samoa continued to climb.

The tiny Pacific nation of 200,000 will grind to a halt tomorrow and on Friday, with non-essential government services to close so that public servants can help with the vaccination campaign.

However, both countries have far higher vaccination rates - more than 90% in both countries - and have so far not reported any deaths.

Figures from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF indicate fewer than 30 percent of Samoan infants were immunised a year ago.

Measles can be effectively prevented by immunization.

"Measles is not a new disease to Samoa and rarely claimed lives", he continued.

Malielegaoi was unequivocal in his message, telling his people "vaccination is the only cure... no traditional healers or kangen (alkaline) water preparations can cure measles".

On Monday, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi delivered a state address during which he gave his condolences to those who had lost loved ones to the virus.

"The answer to our prayers is with us through the services of the doctors and nurses and all health personnel".

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is normally transmitted through fluids in the respiratory system. Death may occur in up to 5-10 percent of infected young children in developing countries.

In patients without the vaccine and those with compromised immune systems, measles can lead to serious complications like blindness, severe diarrhea and dehydration, severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia, and encephalitis, an infection that causes brain swelling.

A few days later it leads to a blotchy rash that starts off on the face and spreads across the body.

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