Wednesday 1 April, 2020

Citizens warned of red eye outbreak

The Ministry of Health is warning citizens against using aerosols to treat the red eye virus after increased reports of red eye cases were received this month.

In a statement issued Friday, the Ministry said that there have been reports of an increased number of persons visiting public healthcare facilities, complaining of red eye. 

This, after the Ministry denied an outbreak last month

The Ministry noted comments on social media advising that red eye (conjunctivitis) can be treated with aerosolised insecticides, which is dangerous and can cause death.

"The Ministry of Health advises that there is no scientific merit to this claim. As such, these products should be used according to the directions of the manufacturer. It must be noted that the use of pesticides inconsistent with that of the manufacturer’s direction is a breach of the Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Act 1979 and Regulations 1987. The Ministry of Health also wishes to advise that the inappropriate use of pesticides can cause serious injury, harm or even death," the Ministry said. 

The Ministry said it continues to strengthen the national response by ensuring health care providers are updated on the diagnosis and management of red eye.

Red eye, also called conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the layer covering the white of the eye and the lining of the eye lids. This causes blood vessels to become more visible, and gives the eye a pink or reddish colour.

Red eye can be caused by:

1. Viruses – in this case, red eye can be very contagious(can be spread to other persons)

2. Bacteria– in this case, red eye can be contagious

3. Allergens, like pollen- in this case, red eye is not contagious

4. Irritants, like smoke or dust – in this case, red eye is not contagious

Most cases of red eye currently being reported to the Ministry of Health are caused by viruses.

There is no specific treatment for red eye caused by viruses. Generally, redness of eyes lasts three to five days and goes away on its own.

Persons are advised to seek medical attention if symptoms get worse or do not improve.

Red eye can be spread by direct contact (usually by your hands), such as touching dirty surfaces and then rubbing your eyes. It can also be spread by sharing towels, medications, or make-up used by other persons that have red eye.

The Ministry of Health reminds citizens to avoid spreading the virus by washing hands with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizers and refraining from sharing personal items like towels, wash rags, pillows, make-up, or eyeglasses with others.


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