Two hundred and ninety four cases of conjunctivitis commonly referred to as “red eye”, have been reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines during the period January to August 2017.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said in a press release issued on Wednesday August 23rd, 2017 that it has reported cases of conjunctivitis since the beginning of the year, which peaked during the months of May and June.

This disclosure come days after Dr. Virginia Asin-Oostburg, Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) said several Caribbean islands have reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis at health facilities and medical practices.

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.

The Ministry advises that risk of getting conjunctivitis, or spreading it to someone else can be reduced by practicing some simple good, hygiene steps such as 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, or use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.

Persons should also disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas such as doorknobs and counter-tops in shared spaces.

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