Visitor to Belize confirmed with whooping cough

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The Belize Government on Tuesday said that the United States-based Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed a case of the highly contagious Pertussis (whooping cough) from a visitor who travelled there during the third week of March this year.

The Ministry of Health said that since the notification, it has activated an investigative team to inform and follow-up with people that the infected person may have interacted with.

"Based on the information received from the CDC, the visitor was considered infectious during their travel in Belize. To date, the ministry has no confirmed case detected in Belize from this imported case. However, the ministry continues to monitor the situation," the statement noted.

The Ministry of Health said whooping cough is a bacterial infection where an individual can present with very violent and uncontrollable episodes of cough, difficulty breathing with a 'whooping noise' usually at the end of the cough episode. Vomiting may occur during or after the coughing episode followed by exhaustion.

"If you or anyone around you present these symptoms, please visit or report to your nearest health centre. After exposure, the infection can be transmitted during the first two weeks and the infection can last for up to 16 weeks."

The ministry said that clinics have a whooping cough-containing vaccine, free of cost for children under age five who are considered most at risk, adding that "whooping cough can be managed if detected with antibiotic treatment and it is given to anyone who shows symptoms and was in direct contact with an infected person".

The authorities said that an estimated 16.3 million people worldwide were infected in 2015 with most cases occurring in the developing countries. In 2015, whopping cough resulted in 58,700 deaths.