PHILIPSBURG–Collective Prevention Services (CPS) have been in contact with family doctors about notifying the CPS surveillance system if they come across cases of conjunctivitis, also known as “red eye” or “pink eye.”
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has issued an epidemiological update after the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Bahamas and Brazil have reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis. Outbreaks of conjunctivitis in other countries of the region are under investigation, according to PAHO.
CPS, a department of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, has followed suit with respect to PAHO’s recommendation: “In light of the increased transmission of conjunctivitis in some countries and territories of the region, the PAHO/World Health Organization (WHO) encourages member states to strengthen surveillance and implement control measures to prevent the spread of the disease.”
The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, irritants and allergens. The virus and bacteria are very contagious. In Guadeloupe, laboratory tests were performed on a set of samples from suspected cases and were positive for enteroviruses. Conjunctivitis bacteria are a leading cause of children being absent from day-care or school.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis can include pink or red colour in the white of the eye(s); swelling of the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid; increased tear production; feeling like a foreign body in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s); itching; irritation and/or burning; discharge (pus or mucus) or crusting of eyelids or lashes. Conjunctivitis is also one of the symptoms of the mosquito-borne Zika disease.
Conjunctivitis can spread easily from person to person. Persons can greatly reduce the risk of getting conjunctivitis or spreading it to someone else by following some simple good hygiene steps.
“If you have conjunctivitis, you can help limit its spread to other people by following these steps: wash your hands often with soap and warm water; wash them especially well before and after cleaning or applying eye drops or ointment to your infected eye; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser,” stated CPS in its release in Sunday.
Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes; wash pillows, sheets, washcloths and towels often in hot water and detergent; wash your hands after handling such items. Do not share personal items such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye make-up, or eyeglasses; do not use swimming pools.
“If you are diagnosed with bacterial or viral conjunctivitis (aka red eye, pink eye), limit your contact with other individuals until you are better; keep your child home from school or day-care until he/she is no longer contagious. It’s usually safe to return to school or work when symptoms have been resolved. To minimise the risk of transmission, it is important to practice good hygiene. If symptoms persist, you should contact your family physician who can then refer you to an eye specialist,” according to CPS.
For additional information, contact CPS at tel. 542-2078 or 542-3003.