World Health Organization warns measles resurgent as Samoa deaths rise

Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi addressing Samoa on the measles epidemic

It says the disease is entirely preventable thanks to a safe vaccine that has been in use since the 1960s, and that measles deaths worldwide decreased by 84 percent between 2000 and 2016 to about 90,000 annually thanks to better immunisation.

A New Zealand newspaper has caused anger for publishing cartoons that make light of the crisis engulfing measles Samoa, which has killed 55 people so far, majority children under the age of four.

The government said nearly 200 new measles cases had been recorded since Sunday, with the rate of infection showing no sign of slowing despite a compulsory mass vaccination programme.

Metlink bus drivers across the region were donning colourful shirts today to raise money for those suffering from the measles outbreak in Samoa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar and Ukraine have reported the highest numbers of cases this year.

"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". As a result, many countries, even wealthy ones, such as the United States and Germany, have reported measles outbreaks.

Emergency measures including compulsory mass immunisations and school closures have so far done little to stop the virus spreading in a country that was particularly vulnerable to measles due to low vaccination rates of about 31 percent.

On Monday, Tuilaepa said more than 58,000 people have been vaccinated since the mass immunization campaign began on November 20.

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".

He said the fatality rate in Samoa was less than two percent but had been known to reach five percent in developing countries.

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

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to serious health complications, including infections of the lungs and brain.

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