Two highly suspected measles cases not immunized

Two children from Samoa who arrived on the Lady Naomi on October 31st are being treated as highly suspected measles cases.

The two children, both under 5 years, are being kept in isolation at the LBJ Hospital.

The Department of Health last night sent blood samples of the two children to Hawaii for testing and according to Dr. Saipale Fuimaono the test results should be known in a day or two.

DOH Epidemiologist Dr. Aifili John Tufa said the children fell ill and were brought to the LBJ Hospital this past Sunday.

Attending physicians noticed some symptoms of measles.

Dr Tufa said the children were isolated and DOH also visited the family where they are stating to check all family members.  He said those who have not been immunized of measles were given shots.

“We are doing everything to prevent a locally borne measles case,” said the epidemiologist.

He pointed out that American Samoa has a 90% immunization coverage and “that gives us good protection.”

At the same time he said residents should be vigilant in monitoring for measles symptoms and take action right away if they suspect someone is affected.

Dr. Fuimaono added that the two highly suspected cases had not received any immunization shots when they arrived here.

KHJ News asked for the name of the village where the children were staying but this information was not disclosed.

Director of Health Motusa Tuileama Nua said they plan to discuss with the Attorney General’s Office how best to proceed with inter Samoa travel in the wake of the measles epidemic in Smaoa and the two highly suspected case we now have here.

He mentioned as a possibility not issuing permits to anyone who does’t provide proof of  being immunized for measles.

The Health Director is also urging local sponsors to please help by finding out first whether the people from Samoa they are sponsoring have been vaccinated for measles.  He said this will certainly help protect the territory from this highly contagious disease.

DOH teams are at the airport daily and the inter island dock on Thursday for the Lady Naomi’s arrival.

Motusa says they’re advising outbound travelers about the measles epidemic and to get immunized if they haven’t done so.

For arriving passengers, they’re looking for symptoms of measles.    The Health Director said anyone with the symptoms should be sent back immediately and this is something he’ll discuss with the AG.

The latest report from the Samoa Ministry of Health issued last Thursday shows that as of Monday last week there were 513 suspected cases and three confirmed measles related deaths.

But the Samoa Observer is reporting three other children whose families have said their deaths were measles related, which should bring the number of children to have died from measles to six, four of whom are siblings.