Unknown disease sending children to hospital

A contagious fever and rash-like illness has resulted in a high number of infants and children being admitted to hospitals and private clinics in Samoa, in what has been described as a serious health scare.

There is concern among the public that it could be monkeypox however people have been told not to worry as the disease is not in Samoa yet.

While monkeypox is yet to be found in any of the Pacific Island nations, there has been no confirmation on what the current disease found among the children is.

Samoa’s Ministry of Health put out a public announcement regarding the outbreak of the illness and added that according to the surveillance of hospitals, the admission of children recorded continues to increase.

A child being comforted at a hospital in Samoa. Picture: Ministry of Health Samoa

The disease has mostly affected children up to the age of four years old.

“Symptoms of these cases are consistent with multiple illnesses including chickenpox and hand-foot-mouth-disease,” stated the ministry.

Medical professionals are investigating the cases of these children who have been admitted.

According to the ministry, chickenpox and hand, foot and mouth disease are very contagious and spread easily and fast among children.

Local Samoan physician Dr Esmay Ah Leong issued a notice pertaining to the “chickenpox-like or varicella-like lesions” after what she saw with her patients in the past week.

Children with rashes such as this have been admitted to hospitals in Samoa. Picture Faavae O Samoa Facebook

Her public notice posted on her Facebook page follows the notice issued by the Ministry of Health that confirmed the outbreak of chickenpox and hand, foot and mouth disease.

However, the local doctor said the hand, foot and mouth disease has lesions and distribution is more aligned with eczema, particularly eczema herpeticum.

“The lesions and the distribution are more aligned with eczema, particularly eczema herpeticum. Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a differential diagnosis but HFMD is commonly found at the said locations, in other words, it doesn’t disseminate like the present lesions in the patients I have seen and treated, where the lesions are mostly on the face and limbs and with torso distribution.

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“These lesions are also raised and have umbilication or central dimples; HFMD lesions are flatter and smaller. The lesions are highly contagious and may appear 5-12 days after contact with an infected person.

“Secondary infections can lead to impetigo or cellulitis. The lesions are itchy and or painful. Proper nutrition and hygiene is essential.”

The doctor also urged the public if exposed, to seek medical help as soon as possible.

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