Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball issued a statement yesterday, after a Saltus Grammar School student was diagnosed case of whooping cough.

The private school sent a letter to parents over the weekend informing them of the “isolated case”, involving a Primary 6 student who contracted the bacterial infection while abroad.

A spokeswoman said: “We have been informed it is the second case on the island.

“The student and family have been quarantined and the student has been given a course of antibiotics,” she added.

Dr Peek-Ball stated that the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) at the Ministry of Health “monitors the occurrence of diseases routinely”.

“When diseases occur, such as vaccine preventable diseases like Pertussis (whooping cough), an investigation is carried out.

“Control measures are put in place to prevent the spread of illness and protect the public.  Persons who are known to be potentially exposed are contacted and provided with guidance,” she added.

Dr Peek-Ball stated: “Pertussis is a highly infectious respiratory disease.  Pertussis can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe.  Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious for babies less than a year old, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system.

“The current Pertussis occurrences are known to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) and do not pose a risk to the general population at this time.

“For reasons of confidentially and respect for privacy, the ESU does not provide information on the locations of disease occurrences unless there is an ongoing public health risk.  If a risk to the general public occurs, the public will be notified.

“Individuals who were reported to be in close contact with the current known cases of Pertussis are in the process of being contacted by the ESU and managed in coordination with their physicians.

“Pertussis cases occur sporadically in Bermuda.  In 2017 and 2018, there were two cases each year reported to the ESU.”

She noted that the number of cases “can be kept low” through the “robust childhood and adult immunization programme in Bermuda”.

“The best protection against Pertussis is through vaccination,” said Dr Peek-Ball.

“When there are increased numbers of cases of Pertussis in a community, vaccination may not provide total protection.  However,  infection is likely to be less severe in those who have been vaccinated.  Good hand hygiene and staying home when unwell with respiratory symptoms are additional ways to reduce the spread of respiratory infections like Pertussis.,” she said.

“The Bermuda Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (BACIP) recommends Pertussis vaccination for infants beginning at 2 months of age and pregnant women.  All other adults should have one dose, including teachers, care givers, healthcare workers and persons in close contact with children.  See your healthcare provider to learn your risk and to update your vaccination status.”