Following the measles vaccination campaign there has been marked improvement in the outbreak with 30 new cases reported in the week to Jan 5 – they take the total to 5,697 and 83 deaths. A Jan 6 govt. update notes that ‘There are currently no travel restrictions or vaccination requirement for those travelling to Samoa. Additionally, proof of MMR vaccination is not currently required for Samoans travelling to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States. Only travelers to American Samoa are required to provide proof of vaccination for MMR.’ Elsewhere in the South Pacific, to Jan 3 Fiji had reported 27 measles cases in Central Division with the govt. advising ‘non-essential travel to Sakoca in Tacirua, Naikorokoro Village in Lami, Saumakia Village in Naitasiri, Nasilai Village in Nakelo Rewa, and Serua/Namosi … is strongly discouraged’, while Tonga registered 612 confirmed or suspected cases to Dec 31 – Tongatapu and Vava’u Island have been most affected. In a Dec 27 report, authorities in Kiribati advised there had been two confirmed measles cases and 18 more were suspected. American Samoa had recorded 10 confirmed and four suspected measles infections to Dec 30 – all from the island of Tutuila. On Dec 23, the WHO International Travel and Health site published ‘Additional health measures in relation with measles outbreaks in the Pacific Island Countries’, comprising travel advisories under Article 43 of the IHR (2005) for American Samoa, Solomon Island, Marshall Island, and Tokelau. Read the NaTHNaC post on the requirements. In other regions, measles cases in Turkey this year have hit a 10-year high with more than 2,700 cases to the end of October, many of those infected were unvaccinated. A WHO summary of measles in the European region from Jan-Oct 2019 attributes the more than 100,000 cases in 49 of 53 countries to ‘immunization gaps’. Since late August, Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires and four regions of the province have recorded 88 measles cases – the highest count since 2000. More on measles reports from the African region – Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Niger and South Sudan.
Advice for travellers
A highly contagious virus, measles occurs in developing and developed countries. While generally benign, infection can result in severe illness or death. Travelvax Australia recommends travellers check their immunisation status for measles and other childhood diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and mumps at least 6 weeks before departure.
Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.