The Department of Health issued a statement to inform the public that it has identified two cases of active Tuberculosis [TB] on the island, and said one case involves a school aged child.
A statement from the Ministry said: “The ‘contact tracing process’ is already underway and will include students in the P3 year at Heron Bay Primary School, as one of the cases is a school-aged child.
“The Department of Health and the Department of Education are working together to ensure that families have been notified, and the process is unfolding uneventfully.
“P3 parents at Heron Bay Primary have been informed in writing and a presentation will be made by Department of Health tomorrow evening.
“However, the identity of individuals will be protected to ensure the emotional wellbeing of any minor children potentially involved in the situation. We appeal to the media and public to respect their right to privacy.
“The Department of Health assures the public that the individuals who need to be contacted, assessed and treated will receive notice from the Nurse Epidemiologist or another representative of the Department of Health. There is no need to contact the Department of Health directly.
“Bermuda is considered a low incidence area for TB and one to three cases are reported each year to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit. This situation is somewhat unusual due to the scope of the contact tracing which must be performed and the fact that a school is involved.
“Tuberculosis is very common in many regions of the world, particularly in developing nations where poverty, over-crowding, poor nutrition and inadequate access to health care exist. TB is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis which typically infects the lungs but can affect other areas of the body.
“This infection can spread from person to person through the air. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or otherwise expels infected saliva droplets into the air, others can inhale these infected droplets and become likewise infected.
“Close contact with an infected individual or inhaling aerosolized droplets in the air is required for infection to occur. TB is not easily transmitted via casual contact.
“Not all individuals who become infected with TB become ill. Tuberculosis infection is often without symptoms, and is called “latent TB”. When an individual becomes ill, we call it “Active TB”. In the classic case of active respiratory TB the individual experiences fever, night sweats, weight loss, poor appetite, fatigue and shortness of breath.
“Reliable testing and treatment for TB is available. The screening test for TB is a simple skin test and/or a blood test. Chest x-rays are sometimes required as part of the evaluation.
“Affected individuals are treated with an anti-tuberculosis medication, or a combination of medications, for several months. Close medical monitoring is required to assure adequate treatment.
“Adequately treated individuals are no longer infectious to others after a few weeks of treatment, and may return to work or school. Typically, with treatment, individuals recover fully from the disease.”
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