Ads by Google Ads by Google

Measles Update: DoH goes to war

dept of health logo
1 confirmed case, 29 probables

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — As of 10a.m. yesterday, American Samoa still had one-laboratory confirmed measles case and “29 probable cases identified through symptomatic diagnosis and referred for evaluation and confirmation at the nearest health center or through the clinical team,” said Health Department’s Dr. Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Anesi, during a press conference held late yesterday morning, providing the latest update on measles in the Territory, with the first case confirmed more than 2 weeks ago of an 8-year-old student.

And the age range for the probable cases is 2 months old to 13 yers old with 53% males and 47% females, said Dr. Anesi during  the DoH news conference.

Displayed at the news conference was a map of Tutuila that identified villages of the reported cases, which are from Fagali’i — on the west-side — to Onenoa — on the east side. Dr. Anesi noted that there is one probable case for Aunu’u island.

He also said that there are no reported cases out of Manu’a as of yesterday morning, but DoH teams are monitoring the situation there.

The summary of cases by villages shows Iliili with the highest at 6; three each in Pago Pago and Nu’uuli and one to two cases in other villages.

It was emphasized by DoH officials during the nearly one-hour news conference that the reason behind the closure of public and private schools, ECE and day care centers is to prevent the spread of the virus to others, especially infants of 6-months and younger and pregnant women, who are not eligible for immunization.

In its presentation, DoH said the goal is to achieve MMR vaccination coverage of 95% of children in American Samoa:

•         Measles being highly infectious, a single exposure to the virus, an individual potentially expose 18 unvaccinated or those with a single dose;

•         Current lower than expected vaccination coverage rates for day care and ECE centers; and,

•         Elementary and high school students have a lower risk when exposed, but exposing their younger vulnerable siblings with higher risk led to the decision for closure in unison to break the transmission, whereas households have a smaller number of people compared to the superspreader places which are all the schools.

DoH is pushing immunization during the closure of schools from Apr. 24 to May 12 and DoH teams will be working with village mayors going out to villages to conduct this important task.

Check with DoH Facebook page for the latest update on village site visits and times.

“Measles is more than just a rash. It’s a dangerous highly infectious disease, especially to our youth, that we can prevent the spread of, by staying up-to-date with vaccinations and encouraging good hygiene.

“The sooner we act, the safer territory there is for the people of today and youth of tomorrow,” said DoH in its latest advisory.

Also at yesterday’s news conference, DoH officials announced that the governor was expected to issue sometime — yesterday — a measles emergency declaration.

And DoH has made recommendations to the governor and the Attorney General’s Office of provisions to be included in the declaration. (Read Emergency Declaration details released in separate story.)

This story will be updated online as other information becomes available.