Measles death toll on the rise

The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

Welling­ton – The death toll from a measles epi­demic in Samoa edged up to 33 yes­ter­day, as ex­perts ex­pressed hope the out­break in the Pa­cific is­land na­tion was close to “burn­ing it­self out”.

Of­fi­cial govern­ment fig­ures showed there had been one ad­di­tional fa­tal­ity since Tues­day, al­though the num­ber of new measles cases climbed by 249 to 2 686 over the same pe­riod.

Univer­sity of Auck­land vac­ci­nol­o­gist He­len Pe­tousis-Harris said Samoa’s 200 000 pop­u­la­tion of­fered a fi­nite pool for the virus to spread and a com­pul­sory im­mu­ni­sa­tion pro­gramme should help limit it.

“With­out in­ter­ven­tion the epi­demic will run a nat­u­ral course and ul­ti­mately burn it­self out,” she said.

“Given the mass vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign now un­der way, it is pos­si­ble that the epi­demic will peak this week or next then be­gin to de­cline.”

Pe­tousis-Harris said re­stric­tions on pub­lic gath­er­ings, which the govern­ment in­tro­duced in tan­dem with its vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme, would also help.

The out­break has been ex­ac­er­bated by low im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates in the is­land na­tion.

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