The Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health earlier today reported that it is actively monitoring an outbreak of conjunctivitis (Pink/Red Eye) in the region. The unit headed by Dr Shawn Charles, shared the report with members of the Ministry’s Surveillance Taskforce during its monthly meeting.
Reports are that on several of the Caribbean islands, epidemics of viral conjunctivitis are ongoing. Recently, general practitioners in the overseas territories of the Netherlands reported an increased incidence of this syndrome.
According to international surveillance reports the number of medical consultations due to conjunctivitis during recent weeks was estimated between 500 and 600 cases per week in Guadeloupe and 150 and 250 cases per week in Martinique.
Outbreaks of viral conjunctivitis occur mainly in tropical countries with high population density, hot and humid climate. However, Grenadian health authorities say that in the Caribbean and in the American region, several outbreaks of conjunctivitis have also been reported in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico, French Guiana and Suriname, but the pathogen has not yet been identified.
Since the Chikungunya outbreak a few years ago, Grenada has had an active surveillance and monitoring system, that has proven to be effective in subsequent outbreaks like Zika for which the Ministry of Health has and continues to receive high commendation for its response.
Meanwhile the MOH are encouraging citizens to take all necessary and preventative measures to avoid becoming infected.
Preventing the Spread of Conjunctivitis
- Washing hands
- Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye) are very contagious. They can spread easily from person to person. You 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
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 sanitizer.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread it to your other eye.
- With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eye(s) several times a day using a clean, wet washcloth or fresh cotton ball. Throw away cotton balls after use, and wash used washcloths with hot water and detergent, then wash your hands again with soap and warm water.
- Do not use the same eye drop dispenser/bottle for your infected and non-infected eyes.
- Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels often in hot water and detergent; wash your hands after handling such items.
- Stop wearing contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay to start wearing them again.
- Clean eyeglasses, being careful not to contaminate items (like hand towels) that might be shared by other people.
- Clean, store, and replace your contact lenses as instructed by your eye doctor.
- Do not share personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye makeup, face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses and, contact lens containers, or eyeglasses.
- Do not use swimming pools.
If You Are Around Someone with Conjunctivitis
If you are around someone with conjunctivitis, you can reduce your risk of infection by following these steps
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. If soap and warm water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Wash your hands after contact with an infected person or items he or she uses; for example, wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to an infected person’s eye(s) or after putting their bed linens in the washing machine.
- Avoid touching your eyes with unwashed hands.
- Do not share items used by an infected person; for example, do not share pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, contact lens containers, or eyeglasses.
For additional information about conjunctivitis (its clinical description how its spread, and how best to prevent and or manage conjunctivitis please visit the link provided: https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/prevention.html