American Samoa schools reopen after pink eye woes

April 15, 2014 by Fili Sagapolutele

Public schools in American Samoa fully reopened Monday after some 3,000 students and teachers contracted pink eye, an outbreak that prompted tourism officials to warn cruise passengers heading to the group of islands in the South Pacific.

Schools in the U.S. territory's main island of Tutuila reopened for the first time since April 4. They make up the bulk of the 28 facilities that shut their doors on the islands about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. Students at four schools got back to class last week.

Education Department Director Salu Hunkin-Finau said the closures helped minimize the outbreak by preventing students and staff from spreading the condition.

She says students and teachers who still have should stay home. Hunkin-Finau herself was home sick Monday, recovering from "the tail end of pink eye" and bronchitis.

Conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye, is a common eye condition and can be extremely contagious. It inflames tissue on the eyeball and lining the eyelid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Meanwhile, the territory's Health Department was setting up sanitation stations at its port, where a cruise liner called the Golden Princess with more than 2,500 passengers aboard is scheduled to arrive Tuesday, said David Vaeafe, executive director of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau.

Agents for the Princess Cruises vessel traveling from Maui have been told about the outbreak, as have agents for two other cruises scheduled to arrive this month.

"Health officials will be at the sanitation station throughout the eight hours the Golden Princess is in port," Vaeafe said Monday.

The outbreak also has affected some court cases and a handful of passengers trying to board flights to Honolulu.

Health officials in the territory have said the is a nuisance but not particularly dangerous.

Related Stories

US officials probe illnesses on Caribbean cruise (Update)

January 26, 2014

U.S. health officials on Sunday boarded a cruise ship docked in the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate an illness outbreak that has stricken at least 300 people with gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea.

Pink eye extends school closures in American Samoa

April 9, 2014

American Samoa is keeping most schools closed for the rest of the week as the U.S. territory tries to contain a pink eye outbreak that has affected about 2,300 students, disrupted court hearings and kept some passengers from ...

More than 100 get virus on California cruise

April 11, 2014

A cruise line says more than 100 passengers have now contracted the highly contagious norovirus as a ship tours California ports, but fewer than 15 are still complaining of symptoms.

Recommended for you

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.