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American Samoa continues prevention measures as measles cases rise in Samoa

 A live coldchain vaccine delivery of MMR in Samoa.
Sources: Department of Public Health & RNZI

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The measles outbreak in neighboring Samoa may quickly spread to American Samoa. You may be at risk if you or your child(ren) are not up to date with your immunization. AS -DOH has received reports of deaths among young children in Upolu, Samoa highly suspected with measles and a result of the outbreak.

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through air droplets when an infected person breathes or coughs. DOH records show many of our school-aged children are not up to date with their measles vaccine putting them at risk. Help keep them safe by making sure their vaccines are up to date or if they are not up to date, bring them to your nearest community health center to get the vaccine.

All schools and Daycare centers have received a list of children with missing or incomplete records of MMR vaccines. These children will be sent home and not accepted back to school until they complete the two doses of MMR at the community health center. All adults travelling to any of countries with Measles outbreak (Samoa, Tonga and New Zealand) are asked to check if they are fully immunized.

Eligible for free MMR vaccinations are children age 12 months and older, including adults traveling to countries where there is an outbreak. Pregnant women are not eligible for the vaccine for safety reasons and are asked to refrain from traveling to the areas where there is an outbreak.

Measles symptoms typically include:
1.     High fever (may spike to more than 104o F)
2.     Cough
3.     Runny nose
4.     Red, watery eyes
5.     Rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin.

If these symptoms are experienced, please visit the community health center immediately. For more information call 633-5871 or 633-5972.


Samoa's Ministry of Health is looking into the death of a two-year-old boy, as the number of suspected measles cases in the country climbs.

There are now 513 suspected cases of measles with results still pending from an Australian laboratory regarding the recent deaths of two infants and an adult male, who showed clinical signs of the disease.

Health authorities say the latest death, of the two-year-old, is being investigated to see if it was measles-related, but the Samoa Observer has reported the child's mother and sister have been infected with measles.

A measles epidemic was declared in Samoa last month, after seven confirmed cases with the source linked to the outbreak in New Zealand.

Samoa's director of health, Leausa Dr Take Naseri, said it was unfair to blame anyone for the spread of measles.

"Whatever happened in New Zealand, then there will be a lot of opinions on that. And we know that with every outbreak, particularly this particular virus, it's... one of the most contagious and communicable viruses."

The virulence of measles had been demonstrated by how the virus spread through international controls to reach Samoa from New Zealand, Dr Naseri said.

Meanwhile, Auckland health authorities have confirmed a case of measles in a New Zealand resident who has returned home from Samoa.

The departed Apia on Samoa Airways Flight OL731 on Saturday morning before landing in Auckland.

The passenger went into isolation shortly after arriving in New Zealand.

Anyone who was on the same flight, or in the airports' departure or arrival areas around the same time as the case, has been warned to watch out for measles symptoms, such as a high fever, runny nose, cough and sore red eyes.

Auckland has been battling a measles outbreak for months, with over 1500 cases confirmed.