Samoan measles outbreak kills 60 including 52 children

Measles vaccination Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team Apia, Samoa Dec 04, 2019, 12.38 PM (IST)

The death toll from a measles outbreak in Samoa has risen to 60 on Wednesday in the latest flare-up of a global epidemic of the virus.

The vast majority of deaths were of children, with 52 out of the 60 aged four or under dying from the disease, according to a government update.

Nineteen-year-old mother Elsie Lolesio lost her one-year-old daughter Noel, only three days apart from the death of her one-year-old nephew Fatau'u Junior. They are buried next to each other.

Lanuola Naseri buried her only son on Wednesday, with the help of donations that allowed her to purchase him a suit and shirt for his funeral.

There are now more than 4,000 cases of measles recorded in the island nation's deeply religious population of around 200,000.

Watch: Global measles cases three times higher than last year

Neighbouring New Zealand and a number of other countries and organisations, including the UN agency UNICEF, have delivered thousands of vaccines, medical supplies and have sent medical personnel to help with the outbreak.

Measles, a highly contagious virus that spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, has been reported also in other Pacific nations, including Tonga and Fiji, but there have been no reports of deaths and the countries have greater vaccination coverage.

Tonga's ministry of health said in a statement late last week that there were 394 cases of suspected measles identified, but only eight people required hospitalisation.

Measles cases are rising worldwide, even in wealthy nations such as Germany and the United States, as parents shun immunisation for philosophical or religious reasons, or fears, debunked by doctors, that such vaccines could cause autism.

(With inputs from agencies)