Samoa has closed all its schools, banned children from public gatherings and mandated that everybody get vaccinated after declaring an emergency due to a measles outbreak that has so far killed six people.
For the past three weeks, the Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in the grip of a measles epidemic that has been exacerbated by low immunization rates.
Schools were closed from Monday after the government declared an emergency on Saturday. The National University of Samoa also told students to stay home and said exams scheduled for this week had been indefinitely postponed.
Health authorities said most of those who died were under the age of 2. They counted 716 measles cases reported, with nearly 100 people still hospitalized including 15 in intensive care.
Samoa’s Director General of Health Leausa Take Naseri said in a news conference last week that he expects the epidemic will get worse. He said that only about two-thirds of Samoans had been vaccinated, leaving the others vulnerable to the virus.
But figures from the World Health Organization and UNICEF indicate that measles immunization rates among Samoan infants have fallen steeply from over 70% in 2013 to under 30% last year.
Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine expert at New Zealand’s University of Auckland, said the Samoan government halted its immunization program for several months last year after two infants died from a medical mishap involving a vaccine.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday it was sending 3,000 vaccines to Samoa as well as nurses and medical supplies.
Ardern said Samoan authorities believe the outbreak was started by a traveler from New Zealand.
“We, of course, have an open flow of people,” Ardern said. “But we see our responsibility as supporting Samoa as they deal with the outbreak, and we are doing that actively.”
Petousis-Harris said it was disappointing that people in New Zealand who were carrying the virus had traveled to Samoa. She said New Zealand has for years known it has immunity gaps.
“But we didn’t deal with the problem,” she said.
Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand have also reported outbreaks of measles but on a smaller scale than in Samoa.
Courtesy of startribune.com
(Main) Listeria bacteria © Getty Images / BSIP (Bottom left) An NHS logo © Reuters / Neil Hall
A sixth person has died from listeria after eating contaminated NHS sandwiches, as Public Health England (PHE) continues an inquiry into whether more people have died from the outbreak.
The victim, who was one of nine previously confirmed cases that had contracted the severe disease, “acquired listeriosis from Good Food Chain products,” while at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, a Public Health England spokesman confirmed.
In June, public health officials revealed that five listeria-infected patients had died, and nine more were seriously ill after eating food in NHS hospitals containing the deadly bacteria. Officials have confirmed that they are testing all samples of listeria on a regular basis to check if they are linked to this outbreak.
What is listeria?
Listeria is a bacteria that can cause a severe disease in humans, but normally only affects individuals who don’t have a strong immune system. It is caught by eating contaminated food.
Where is it commonly picked up from?
This type of bacteria is killed if food is cooked, so the infection is usually caused by ready-to-eat food – such as sandwiches – that become contaminated. It’s found in soil so can come from herbs and salads, but it also regularly contaminates cured meats, soft cheeses, pates, and vegetables.
43 out of the 135 NHS trusts were supplied by The Good Food Chain and they have been placed on alert for cases of listeria, which can lead to sepsis and meningitis. It can cause pregnant women to miscarry, and can also be passed to unborn children.
Courtesy of rt.com
A doctor showing a case of tuberculosis on an x-ray at the tuberculosis centre in Berlin-Lichtenberg. FILE PHOTO © Global Look Press
Health officials have been scrambled to a school in southwestern Germany where dozens of children have been infected with lung-choking tuberculosis.
A total of 109 students, teachers and other school employees at the Michael Ende non-denominational school have found themselves in the grip of the disease, following an outbreak in the town of Bad Schönborn.
Authorities revealed that four people, including two students, have active cases of tuberculosis, meaning they could be contagious. The four have been removed from the school and are receiving medical treatment.
“We cannot rule out the possibility that there will be new cases of active illness,” Ulrich Wagner from the Karlsruhe health department said to the Badische Neueste Nachrichten newspaper.
The outbreak comes after two children in two separate schools in Bad Schönborn were found in early July to have active tuberculosis. The disease has since continued to spread in the Michael Ende school. The eighth grade class has been particularly badly affected, with 56 students –88 percent of the entire class– contracting the illness.
Local broadcaster SWR is reporting that health officials are now examining the school building to determine how the bacteria was able to infect so many people.
Courtesy of rt.com
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today declared the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
“It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system,” said Dr. Tedros. “Extraordinary work has been done for almost a year under the most difficult circumstances. We all owe it to these responders — coming from not just WHO but also government, partners and communities — to shoulder more of the burden.”
The declaration followed a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee for EVD in the DRC. The Committee cited recent developments in the outbreak in making its recommendation, including the first confirmed case in Goma, a city of almost two million people on the border with Rwanda, and the gateway to the rest of DRC and the world.
This was the fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee since the outbreak was declared on 1 August 2018.
The Committee expressed disappointment about delays in funding which have constrained the response. They also reinforced the need to protect livelihoods of the people most affected by the outbreak by keeping transport routes and borders open. It is essential to avoid the punitive economic consequences of travel and trade restrictions on affected communities.
“It is important that the world follows these recommendations. It is also crucial that states do not use the PHEIC as an excuse to impose trade or travel restrictions, which would have a negative impact on the response and on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region,” said Professor Robert Steffen, chair of the Emergency Committee.
Since it was declared almost a year ago the outbreak has been classified as a level 3 emergency – the most serious – by WHO, triggering the highest level of mobilization from WHO. The UN has also recognized the seriousness of the emergency by activating the Humanitarian System-wide Scale-Up to support the Ebola response.
In recommending a PHEIC the committee made specific recommendations related to this outbreak.
“This is about mothers, fathers and children – too often entire families are stricken. At the heart of this are communities and individual tragedies,” said Dr. Tedros. “The PHEIC should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help.”
Courtesy of who.int
Twelve people have died of a rare bacterial infection that has spread in Essex.
There have been 32 reported cases of the disease, called invasive Group A streptococcus (iGAS), the NHS Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed.
It said the outbreak started in Braintree and has since spread to the Chelmsford and Maldon areas.
The bacteria can be found in the throat and on the skin and people may carry it without displaying any symptoms.
It can live in throats and on hands for long enough to allow it to be spread between people through sneezing, kissing and skin contact.
In a report, the clinical commissioning group said the “sometimes life-threatening GAS disease may occur when bacteria get into parts of the body where bacteria usually are not found, such as the blood, muscle, or the lungs”.
It said that “most of the patients affected are elderly and had been receiving care for chronic wounds, in the community, either in their own homes and some in care homes”.
An incident management team has been established to “control the incident and closely monitor the situation”.
Rachel Hearn, director of nursing and quality, Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Our thoughts are with the families of those patients who have died.
“The risk of contracting iGAS is very low for the vast majority of people and treatment with antibiotics is very effective if started early.
“We will continue to work with our partners in Public Health England to investigate how this outbreak occurred and take every possible step to ensure our local community is protected.”
Courtesy of Sky News