Jesse Chun, Sr. Biostatistician at the Ministry of Health told Belize City media last week that approximately 11,000 people have shown up at clinics countrywide with the dreaded conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). He also stated that, in terms of numbers, it is the biggest outbreak in decades for Belize.
Chun told 7News Belize that he believes that Belize is currently in the middle of the outbreak; that the Pink Eye came from the northern part of the country and has since spread all the way down to the Toledo District down south. The Belize District reports having the majority of cases which is expected, as it has the most population in the country.
Over 3,000 cases were reported just last week alone and those numbers match the number of cases reported throughout the whole year of 2016! Last week’s figures alone match last year’s total. WOW!
Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:
* Redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid
* Watery eyes
* Thick yellow discharge that crusts over the eyelashes, especially after sleep
* Itchy eyes, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light
To lessen the spreading of conjunctivitis, the following precautionary steps may be taken:
* Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Wash them especially before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment to your infected eye.
* Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread the infection.
* With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eye(s) several times a day using a clean wet washcloth. Wash the used washcloth with hot water and soap, and then wash your hands again with soap and warm water.
* Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels often with hot water and soap; wash your hands after handling such items.
* Do not wear contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay to start wearing them again.
* Do not share personal items such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye and face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses and contact lens containers, or eyeglasses.
* Avoid shaking hands with others.
* Persons suffering pink eye should stay away from work, school and public places until the infection clears.
The Ministry of Health encourages persons experiencing the above symptoms, and those who believe they have been exposed to conjunctivitis, to seek medical attention at their nearest health facility. The Ministry also encourages all to limit physical contact with anyone who is suspected of having conjunctivitis due to the highly contagious nature of the infection.