16 Dec 2019

American Samoa tests for local measles transmission

10:11 am on 16 December 2019
MMR vaccinations underway in American Samoa.

MMR vaccinations underway in American Samoa. Photo: RNZ Pacific / Monica Miller

The latest measles case in American Samoa is an 8-year-old child who is believed to have contracted the virus locally.

Department of Health Epidemiologist Dr Aifili John Tufa said they were still investigating how the child contracted the measles virus.

The territory has received a shipment of 8000 vaccines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is launching a mass vaccination program in villages tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the vaccination of employees of the StarKist Samoa cannery which has a workforce of 2000.

This past week only one measles suspected case was seen at the LBJ Hospital and a blood sample is being sent to Hawaii for testing.

Dr Tufa said while there was a measles outbreak, the territory's high vaccination coverage was believed to be what was slowing down the spread of measles.

He also believed the quick action to restrict entry at the borders had helped.

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