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
Emergency services have been called to an Essex seafront after several reports of people coughing and struggling to breathe.
Members of the public began reporting the incident at the seafront off Fourth Avenue in Frinton just after 2pm on Sunday.
People on the beach said they had been left struggling to breathe and Essex Police advised people not to go into the sea while the cause is investigated.
It was speculated online that a fuel spill had occurred but the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there was no immediate evidence after it sent a counter pollution aircraft to the scene.
Miriam Lansdell, who was visiting her parents in Essex, said: “My daughter started coughing. She said ‘I don’t feel good, it hurts to breathe in’. My other daughter was gasping and couldn’t form words because she couldn’t breathe well enough.”
The mental health worker, 45, said she also had problems breathing as she lay on the sand after taking a swim.
When they moved further away from the beach they all began to feel better but she took her 10-year-old girls to a clinic to be checked.
Her father had been told by someone in a speedboat that there may have been a fuel spill, Ms Lansdell said.
She said: “My dad said he had been asked to get out of the water by a man on a boat. He asked why and the man said there had been a fuel spill. He said if anyone is having breathing difficulties they should probably call an ambulance.
“It’s not what you expect when you go for a day out to the beach.”
One person tweeted that there were “lots of people coughing heavily”.
A mother said her son began coughing after swimming and had to be given his inhaler.
Another said: “We have just left Frinton and have seen lots of fire engines on the way out. Has there been an incident? We were on the beach and all developed a cough and were struggling to breathe.”
East of England Ambulance Service said people should wash themselves down if they were in the water, change their clothes and drink fresh water.
A spokeswoman added: “We are aware of an incident on Sunday 25 August with reports of a number of people suffering from coughing on the seafront off Fourth Avenue, Frinton.
“We are assisting the police and fire services with this incident. The cause is currently unknown.”
Anyone with further concerns is advised to call the NHS on 111.
Courtesy of Sky News
Spain has issued an international alert after the number affected by the country’s biggest ever listeria outbreak rose to 150.
A 90-year-old woman has been killed by the infection as the health ministry said it was checking another 523 suspected cases of listeriosis.
The spread has sparked fears in Spain, which is visited by around 80 million tourists a year.
Listeriosis is usually caught from eating food containing listeria bacteria.
It can be found in many types of food but is mainly a problem with unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses and chilled ready-to-eat snacks like pre-packed sandwiches.
Most confirmed cases in Spain have been recorded in the southern region of Andalusia, where a packaged pork plant linked to the outbreak is situated.
But there have been other cases as far away as Catalonia in the northeast, where around 50 people remain in hospital.
José Miguel Cisneros, director of the infectious disease department at Seville’s Virgen del Rocío Hospital, announced on Tuesday the first casualty since the outbreak was declared on 15 August.
Mr Cisneros said roughly half of the 114 people affected by the bacteria remain hospitalised.
Listeria usually causes mild illness but can be dangerous to pregnant women, 23 of whom are among those still in hospital.
It is also more dangerous to those with weakened immune systems.
Spain’s health ministry has issued alerts to EU authorities and the World Health Organization over the outbreak.
The plant in question, owned by Seville-based Magrudis, was inspected by health authorities after lab tests showed the presence of listeria in one of its products.
Authorities have closed the pork meat supplier’s plant and recalled all of its products.
The company has not responded to requests for comment.
Maria Luisa Carcedo, acting health health minister, said: “Obviously there was a failure to follow the established procedures.
“Now we need to carry out the inspections and investigations to figure out exactly where this failure took place.”
In recent months, six people have been killed in a listeria outbreak in the UK after eating contaminated hospital food.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered a root and branch review of NHS food in June after the first five patient deaths.
Courtesy of Sky News
(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.
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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.”
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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