CARPHA warns of red eye outbreak within region
August 25, 2017

CARPHA warns of red eye outbreak within region

With 294 confirmed cases of conjunctivitis reported in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) for 2017, the public is urged to take the necessary precautions to prevent and reduce the spread of the illness. 

The advice comes from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which is reporting outbreaks of the illness at health facilities and medical practices around the region.

Dr Virginia Asin-Oostburg, director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control of CARPHA said the agency is is currently monitoring the situation and urges persons to take the necessary precautions.

Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation of the membrane covering the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids. The congestion of blood vessels in this membrane gives rise to a reddened appearance and explains the more common names “red eye” or “pink eye”.  The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. Eye symptoms can include:

∑ Redness; irritation; itchiness; production of excessive tears

∑ Clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelids stick together, especially on mornings

∑ Swelling of the eyelids 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in St Vincent and the Grenadines stated in a release that there have been reported cases of conjunctivitis since the beginning of the year, which peaked during the months of May and June. So far, the total number of reported cases from January to August is 294.

The Ministry further advises that risk of getting conjunctivitis, or spreading it to someone else, can be reduced by practising some simple good, hygiene steps. These include:

  • Avoiding close contact with persons who are ill with conjunctival symptoms
  • Keeping unwashed hands away from face and eyes
  • Washing your hands often with soap and warm water. Alternatively, you may use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye make-up, face make-up, make-up brushes, contact lenses and contact lens containers, or eyeglasses
  • Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas, (for example doorknobs, counter-tops in shared spaces).

If you are infected, avoid using makeup and applicators (for example brushes and sponges). If you are infected, wash hands well before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment to your infected eye.  

Once the infection goes away, it is important to avoid re-infection:

Discard disposable contact lenses and cases that you used while your eyes were infected.

Extended wear lenses should also be discarded, or, at the least, sterilized as directed by your eye-care professional It is advisable that your eyes are examined by an eye care professional before beginning to use contact lenses again, after a bout of conjunctivitis. It is also advisable that you clean eyeglasses and cases that you used while infected.

Further information on conjunctivitis can be obtained from your local health clinics or your general practitioner.