As of 11th November 2019 there have been 716 suspected or confirmed measles cases, an increase of 203 over the previous week. Measles cases have been recorded in all inhabited areas of Samoa, three quarters of whom reside in Upolu.
Young children have been particularly hard hit, with 58% of cases being aged 4 years and under. Unfortunately there have been an additional three measles-related deaths, all young children, bringing the total of measles-related deaths to six.
Over 40% of all cases have required admission to hospital, almost 90% of these to TTM Hospital. A further 24 cases were admitted to hospitals in Savaii and six to Leulumoega District Hospital.
The public should be advised that from Friday 15th November 2019, the Children’s Outpatient Clinic will be closed and all suspected measles cases will need to present to the Acute Primary Care Clinic/Outpatient Department (APCC/OPD), including emergency measles cases. This clinic will operate 24 hours a day. All non-measles will either need to seek care at a Private GP clinic, or to the emergency department if they are seriously ill. This change is a result of the increasing number of measles cases presenting to TTM Hospital and to prevent people coming to the hospital with non-measles complaints, becoming infected with measles.
Being vaccinated against measles is the best way to prevent infection. Achieving a high level of vaccination across the country is key to controlling the epidemic. The measles vaccination continues to be available at all Health Facilities.
We wish to remind the public that the measles virus is very contagious. The measles virus can be spread by an infected person through the air through breathing, coughing or sneezing. It is important for the public to remain alert for any signs or symptoms of measles.
Initial measles symptoms can include: fever, cough, runny nose, red and watery eyes, eye sensitivity to light, as well as diarrhoea in children. After 3-5 days a raised red rash will appear, usually commencing on the face and neck and spreading to the rest of the body.
For anyone who has any of the above symptoms:
- Stay at home and keep isolated from others
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, or wear a mask
- Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluids
- Take paracetamol tablets, or paracetamol syrup for children, if experiencing a fever and apply cool sponging
- Seek medical advice if you or your child’s condition worsens despite the above treatment
The Ministry of Health continues to advise the public to take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families from contacting measles.
The Ministry advises the public to:
- Refrain from being in places where there are a lot of people.
- Ensure that children’s vaccination and immunization status is kept up to date.
- Ensure that children 6 months and above are vaccinated, if they have not been vaccinated.
- Ensure that you maintain good hand washing practices by washing your hands using soap and clean water several times throughout the day and, after coughing, sneezing or, caring for a sick person.
Some of the people who should not be vaccinated with the current measles vaccine includes; infants less than 6 months of age, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and people with a history of allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Please advise the immunisation nurse or doctor if you have any of the above conditions or any other Non Communicable Disease (diabetes, high blood pressure etc).
For further information on measles, please contact your nearest health facility or a healthcare provider.