Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Measles: Samoa declares emergency as cases continue to spike worldwide

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 29 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6767

Rapid Response:

Re: Measles: Samoa declares emergency

It is painful to hear of even a single death.
That isolated populations with recent introduction of an infectious disease ( no preexisting immunity of the antibody variety) are fertile ground for a new virus has been known for centuries. Readers will recall how blankets from patients who had died of smallpox were distributed by cattle breeders to the native populations in South America with the aim of obtaining land for their own purposes.
However, Samoa is in a different category. The Samoans are frequently exposed to visitors from elsewhere.
A couple of questions arise.
1. Is the current outbreak caused by a particularly virulent genetic variation of the Measles virus?,And is this variation more virulent to people of a largely different chromosomal make-up?
2. Is the measles vaccine currently used in Samoa being tested for its ability to elicit humoral resistance in SAMOAN population to the same extent, say ,as in the Japanese or Finnish populations?

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 November 2019
JK Anand
Retired doctor
Free spirit