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Over a thousand cases of pink eye reported in Belize

Last week, the Ministry of Health issued a release warning that conjunctivitis cases, more commonly known as pink eye, is on the rise. The release went on to advise the public to take precautionary measures in order to avoid contracting the illness. Further, it stated that those who have reason to believe that they may have the illness should seek medical attention. Love News spoke with Dr. Ethan Gough, Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Ethan Gough – Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health

“It seems like this could potentially be a regional thing not just Belize but in terms of what’s driving transmission, conjunctivitis is just a very contagious illness. Its estimated from outbreaks in other countries that every one individual person with conjunctivitis can infect 3-7 new people so if we just think about it one person can lead to 3-7 new people infected and they themselves will lead to an additional 3-7 new people being infected it’s just very highly contagious.”

Dr. Gough went on to speak about the symptoms which are indicators that you have contracted the illness.

Dr. Ethan Gough – Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health

“A redness in the eyes, watery eyes, discharge from the eyes, itchy eyes, blurred vision, increased sensitivity to light, those are the typical symptoms.”

Dr. Gough also spoke of how someone can avoid getting pink eye.

Dr. Ethan Gough – Head of the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health

“Basically hand personal hygiene so regularly washing your hands. If there is someone in the home who has conjunctivitis just be careful about sharing towels, linens things that can be contaminated by the infected person. Basically try to avoid contaminating objects that can then infect other people and regularly washing your hands. So that is what people can do to protect themselves but overall it is important as well that people who have these symptoms that they seek medical attention so that they can receive a formal diagnosis so that they can receive the necessary treatment and we also strongly advise people who are ill to stay at home so avoid going to school, going to work because if you imagine one person with pink eye can infect 3-7 people on average.”

Dr. Gough explained that it takes about a week for a person on medication to recover from pink eye. He said so far 1,108 cases have been reported, with Corozal District being found to have the highest number of recorded cases at 379, while Belize District recorded 162 cases.