The Public Health Department is warning it has noted a rise in the number of cases of conjunctivitis, a highly infectious disease also known as ‘Pink eye’.
The number of weekly cases is up from six to seven per week to ten to twelve per week, according to a Public Health press release.
‘If you woke up this morning and one or both of your eyes were sticky, red, swollen and gritty then you probably caught Pink Eye,’ explained Dr. Jyotin Pandit, Ophthalmologist at the Lions Eye Clinic.
‘You might have caught it from a friend or colleague at work who was coughing and sneezing everywhere but most likely it was someone in your family who had a sore throat, runny nose or red eye a few days ago,’ he said.
Pink eye, which is caused by the Adenovirus group of viruses, can infect different parts of the body and can manifest itself in sore throat, coughing and sneezing; it can even cause bronchitis, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Pink eye is easily spread by touching the eye without washing the hands, as well as through articles used to clean the eyes or face, such as tissues or towels.
‘It is important to wash your hands frequently, especially after touching affected eyes,’ Dr. Pandit emphasised. ‘Persons should also avoid sharing towels, tissues, and eye treatments.’
Symptoms usually start within 24 to 72 hours after contact, and can last from three days to two to three weeks.
Affected individuals are advised to seek medical treatment as soon as possible, as the disease is highly infectious during the first week.
Dr. Pandit said that the standard treatment involves prescribing ‘Voltarol’ drops to be used for one week. Individuals who have Pink Eye should not share medication with others. Antibiotics do not help with this viral infection.
Tips to prevent pink eye:
• wash your hands well;
• keep your hands away from infected eye(s);
• keep children away from infected persons and don’t let them share toys;
• don’t share washrags, pillows, handkerchiefs, etc., with infected persons;
• don’t share cosmetics with infected persons;
• don’t wear contact lenses; and
• if infected, individuals should remain home from work, school or nursery for one week after onset of symptoms.