Dec. 2 (UPI) — Officials on the Pacific island of Samoa said Monday more than 50 people, mostly children, have now died of measles — and there are nearly 200 new cases.

The government declared a measles outbreak in late October and a state of emergency last month. Samoan officials said they have verified 3,728 measles cases so far, and 53 have died. The island nation started a mass vaccination campaign on Nov. 20 that’s inoculated more than 58,000.

Officials say 2,200 of the cases involve children under the age of 10, and children under 5 account for 48 of the 53 deaths.

Samoa has closed its schools and prohibited large public gatherings, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said Monday. The government will also close Thursday and Friday to deploy relief workers, Malielegaoi added.

Measles is highly contagious and symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes. It can be deadly, particularly in those with weak or compromised immune systems.

The United States this year recorded the most measles cases since 1992, with at least 31 states reporting infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the majority of cases involved those who hadn’t been vaccinated.



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