American Samoa has declared a public health emergency over an outbreak of measles, forcing the territory’s Department of Education to close all schools until at least May 12, sending 12,000 students home.
The emergency declaration signed by Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga on Monday is set to last for 30 days, expiring on May 24, according to ABC News.
According to an America Samoa Department of Health (ASDH) notice, there has been one laboratory-confirmed case of measles and 31 suspected/probable cases of the highly contagious disease, including children under 6 months of age who are hospitalized and ineligible for the measles vaccine.
ASDH ordered those who tested positive to isolate for 21 days, and said residents who could have been exposed may be asked to quarantine for the same amount of time.
American Samoa experienced a similar measles outbreak in 2019 that lasted for 43 days, according to a World Health Organization report. During the duration of the public health emergency, authorities reported twelve measles cases and no deaths.
Measles, a contiguous disease that can spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, can cause symptoms such as high fever and rashes and can also lead to serious complications such as Pneumonia and Encephalitis,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Declining vaccination rates have raised fears of measles surging among vulnerable populations. Both Ohio and Minnesota experienced measles outbreaks within the last year.
ASDH also shared a social media post detailing several health clinics, churches, and community halls that are offering the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine for residents who are aged 6 months or older.