Measles deaths in Samoa exceed 50, mostly young children

WELLINGTON, Dec. 2 (Reuters) - The death toll from a measles outbreak in Samoa has risen to 53, the government said Monday, as the number of people infected in the small Pacific nation rises by more than a hundred per day. The vast majority of deaths were from children, and 48 children under four died due to the disease, according to a government update. There have been more than 3,700 cases of measles in the population of the islands of about 200,000, with 198 new cases between Sunday and Monday. Measles cases are increasing worldwide, including in rich nations such as Germany and the United States, as parents avoid immunization for philosophical or religious reasons, or fear, discredited by doctors, that such vaccines can cause autism. The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in October of the devastating return of measles epidemics worldwide, as the number of reported cases increased by 300 percent in the first three months of this year. Samoa's vulnerability has increased as the number of people who get immunized decreases, and WHO says the vaccine coverage is only 31%. The country, with the support of international donors such as New Zealand and Australia, has been competing to administer vaccines to children since it declared a state of emergency on November 20 and has so far vaccinated 58,150 people. Schools and universities have closed and most public meetings are banned in Samoa, located south of the equator, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Measles, a highly contagious virus that spreads easily through coughs and sneezes, has been reported in other Pacific nations, including Tonga and Fiji, but there have been no reports of deaths in those countries, which have greater coverage. vaccination (Report by Charlotte Greenfield. Lincoln Feast Edition.) This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)