Samoa declared a state of emergency over the deadly measles outbreak spreading across the Pacific islands. At least six deaths, mostly infants under the age of two, have been linked to the outbreak.
There are 716 suspected cases of measles and 40% required hospitalization. All unvaccinated citizens was legally forced to receive immunization injections. However only about two-thirds of the population has been immunized, according to the health ministry. Measles cases are rising globally, including in the U.S. and Germany. American Samoa, a US territory neighboring Samoa, declared a public health emergency on Thursday following the measles outbreak in Samoa and Tonga.
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease. It spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. It can affect people of any age. Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person. Common complications include diarrhea (in 8% of cases), middle ear infection (7%), and pneumonia (6%). Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will be infected. The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease. Once a person has become infected, no specific treatment is available. Measles affects about 20 million people a year. After millions deaths in the past, the number was reduced to some tens of thousands in the last years.