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Primary student infected with meningitis

A primary school student has been infected with viral meningitis and is receiving medical care in Boston.

The student, who attends Bermuda High School, has not been named and this newspaper has been given no further information as to the severity of the case.

BHS principal Linda Parker told The Royal Gazette that the school has received advice from the Department of Health with regards to preventing the spread of the virus and confirmed that there were no concerns about the virus having spread at the school.

According to the fact sheet distributed by the DoH, adapted from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is the inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord and is most commonly caused by enteroviruses.

The DoH issued the following advice to BHS to help avoid spreading infection: “Wash hands thoroughly and often; disinfect commonly touched surfaces frequently; avoid sharing cups or eating utensils; cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper shirt sleeve; stay at home when you are sick.”

Ms Parker added: “BHS has hand sanitisers in the classrooms and we continually remind the children to wash their hands. On a daily basis, our Maintenance Department is sanitising the banisters and door handles throughout the School. We strongly request that children remain at home if they are sick and do not return to school until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours.

A spokeswoman for the DoH told this newspaper that meningitis reporting for the past month has not reached thresholds to trigger a public health alert.

She added that the Ministry of Health is “routinely informed of cases of reportable communicable diseases, including meningitis”.

“Individual cases are not commented on. Members of the public who may have concerns should contact their personal physicians.

“Physicians should report any notifiable diseases to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit as per routine.”

Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis and is often less severe than the bacterial form. The viral form is spread most commonly from one person to another through close contact.

Children under the age of five years old and people with weakened immune systems are often more susceptible to infection while the virus can be more severe in babies. Common symptoms in babies include fever, fussiness, poor eating, sleepiness and lack of sleep whereas common symptoms in adults are fever, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to bright light, sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and lack of energy.

The DoH advisory suggests “persons with viral meningitis should be excluded from work/school until fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. Siblings or close contacts do not need to be excluded from work/school.”

The advisory continues: “Most people completely recover on their own within seven to ten days. A hospital stay may be necessary in more severe cases, such as babies or for people with weak immune systems.”

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Published September 22, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 22, 2016 at 6:32 am)

Primary student infected with meningitis

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