Samoa measles outbreak tops 4,000 cases

Lt. Gov. Green to send team to Samoa to help deal with deadly measles outbreak

A measles outbreak in Samoa has killed 55 people so far

The government said some 33,000 people were vaccinated before last month and since then, another 58,000 people had been vaccinated.

At this stage the Samoan government has revealed there are 177 measles cases who are in-patients at all health facilities.

There are now more than 4 000 cases of measles recorded in the island nation's deeply religious population of around 200 000.

In response to the ongoing crisis, the Samoan Prime Minister has declared a state of emergency.

Despite efforts, the outbreak continued, and the number of cases ballooned. The government, in the hopes to lessen the spread of the disease, closed schools and had barred students from attending public events.

To achieve the goal, he said government services and departments would close on Thursday and Friday this week in order to allow all public servants to assist with the mass vaccination campaign throughout the country.

Officials in Samoa say low immunization rates have caused a measles outbreak.

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

Mr. Malielegaoi said during the press conference: "Let us work together to encourage and convince those who do not believe that vaccinations are the only answer to the epidemic".

The creator of a cartoon in the Otago Daily Times joking about the Samoa measles epidemic has apologized, saying it should not have been put forward for publication.

The Prime Minister added that there are no traditional healers that could cure the condition, and people should be aware of promises of alternative remedies.

New Zealand clinics are being told not to turn away any children in need of a measles vaccination, regardless of whether they are New Zealand citizens. Death may occur in up to 5-10 percent of infected young children in developing countries.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that is normally transmitted through fluids in the respiratory system.

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