PRESS RELEASE – St Jude Hospital is reporting a significant increase in the number of cases of conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to in St Lucia as “red eye”, in the south of the island over the past two weeks.
St Jude Hospital has recorded 47 cases of “red eye” so far for the month of July. The hospital registered just two cases of red eye for all of June.
This spike in new cases comes after the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological update last month warning of outbreaks of conjunctivitis in five countries and territories of the Americas, including Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. The most common symptoms of red eye or conjunctivitis include redness, watery or mucus discharge, and a burning, sandy, or gritty feeling in one eye.
Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and spread by direct contact with secretions or contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. St Jude Hospital advises the general public that simple hygiene measures can help minimize transmission to others.
Frequent hand washing is an essential and highly effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Hands should be wet with water and plain soap, and rubbed together for 15 to 30 seconds.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative for disinfecting hands if a sink is not available.
Adults or children with conjunctivitis should not share handkerchiefs, tissues, towels, cosmetics, or bed sheets/pillows with uninfected family or friends.
Anyone experiencing the symptoms of conjunctivitis should immediately seek medical attention.