Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Westmoreland health dept urges precaution after pink eye detection

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2023 | 8:49 AM
Pink eye is redness and swelling of the eye that may be due to infection or irritation caused by viruses. -File photo

The Westmoreland Health Department is urging residents to take precaution to prevent an outbreak viral conjunctivitis (pink eye) following the confirmation of three cases in the western parish. 

Surveillance data shows that the three cases were confirmed in the Negril health district and were detected in three children ages two, three and five. 

Health Promotion and Education Officer for the parish, Gerald Miller, told JIS News that while there is no outbreak at this time, he is advising the public to take steps to decrease their risk of becoming infected with pink eye.

These measures include washing hands regularly, limiting handshakes, and wearing eye protection when exposed to wind, dust, heat or sun to avoid irritation.

Persons are also being urged to avoid touching the eyes unnecessarily and sharing eye makeup, eye medicines, and contact lenses, containers and solutions.

“While we don't have an outbreak, the potential is great if we don't arrest it because it is highly contagious. If one child comes to school, they can spread it to other children in the environment. So, that's why we are alerting our stakeholders,” Miller said. 

He said the health department has notified its stakeholders and has been conducting sensitisation activities to boost awareness.

“Since pink eye is contagious, we are using this medium now to engage and to alert our stakeholders, primarily the early childhood institutions, the Ministry of Education [and Youth] and our schools,” Miller said. “We have ...sent information to the development officers, who work with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), and we also informed the education officers for Westmoreland to disseminate information in their WhatsApp groups."

Miller is urging parents to visit a health care provider if their children are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Pink eye is redness and swelling of the eye that may be due to infection or irritation caused by viruses.

Signs of the virus include redness and watery eyes, itchy and/or burning eyes, grainy feeling in the eyes and hypersensitivity to light.

Pink eye is a common condition, and the infection can be spread by touching/rubbing the eyes with dirty hands or sharing objects such as eye drops, contact lenses, towel/handkerchief and makeup.

Most people will recover from pink eye within seven to10 days without medical treatment.

- JIS 

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