30 Jun 2007

SPC reviewing how American Samoa saved itself from 1918 influenza epidemic

10:24 am on 30 June 2007

An official from the Pacific Community, the SPC, visiting Pago Pago in American Samoa to review local plans for pandemic preparedness, says a review of what worked in 1918 would help protect the territory and the Pacific from a future outbreak of Asian flu.

Dr Narenda Singh says American Samoa shielded itself from the influenza epidemic of 1918 which decimated the population of neighbouring Samoa.

"When Spanish flu hit the world, American Samoa managed to save itself, whilst Samoa lost about 25 per cent of its population, so we need to know what American Samoa did right."

Dr Singh says an outbreak of Asian flu could last for 6 to 8 weeks and countries must have plans in place to deal with the disease.