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
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
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
#BubonicPlague outbreak sees medics board #plane and #quarantine #passengers who flew from #Mongolian region
This is the alarming moment that paramedics in hazmat suits were forced to board a plane in Mongolia amid fears of a bubonic plague outbreak.
Emergency workers intercepted the domestic flight at the airport in the capital Ulaanbaatar, after a husband and wife died of the contagious disease in the region where the flight originated.
According to reports they had eaten contaminated meat from a marmot, a large squirrel.
Eleven passengers from the west of the country were held at the airport and sent immediately for hospital checks while others were examined at the airport.
Alarming: Paramedics wearing hazmat suits board a flight in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar
Paramedics in anti-contamination suits boarded the flight from provincial outposts Bayan, Ulgii and Khovd as soon as it landed.
Some 158 people have been put under intensive medical supervision in Bayan-Ulgii province after coming into contact directly or indirectly with the couple who died.
Some frontier check points with Russia are reported to have been closed leading to foreign tourists being stranded in Mongolia.
A man named Citizen T, aged 38, died on April 27 after hunting and eating marmot meat.
His pregnant wife, 37, died three days later, reported The Siberian Times, leaving their four children orphaned.
Top medic Dr N. Tsogbadrakh said the plague had ‘affected the man’s stomach’ after he ate the meat and gave it to his wife.
The bubonic plague can kill an adult in less than 24 hours if not treated in time, according to the World Health Organisation.
It is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is usually found in small mammals and their fleas.
The bacterium was linked to the Black Death which wiped out more than a third of Europe’s population in the 14th century and to subsequent plague outbreaks.
The disease is now treatable with antibiotics but hundreds of people have died of it around the world in recent years.
Since the 1990s, most human cases have occurred in Africa, according to world health bosses.
Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk