‘Red eye’ outbreak in Linden – CMO

Viral conjunctivitis (red eye) infection is reportedly prevalent in parts of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), including the Linden community, and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), Dr Steve Mark, is urging

Region 10 CMO Dr Steve Mark

members of the public to utilise preventative measures in combating the disease.

Viral conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye caused by inflammation of the conjunctiva. There have reportedly been a number of cases of this disease noted across the country. Affected persons in the Linden community had begun to voice concerns over the availability of suitable drugs at hospitals and health centres to treat the symptoms of the infection as it spreads throughout the town; however, the CMO has explained that the ailment does not require a specific treatment, and can clear up within 3-5 days. He advises members of the community to practise preventative measures to stop the virus from spreading. According to Dr Mark, there was an increase in the number of cases over approximately a month ago, but he said the numbers have since declined.

“Initially we had a high influx — sometimes as much as between 50- 90 patients per day. We were giving prophylactic treatment (preventative) and we would have given preventative antibiotics in some cases, because sometimes there is a mix of infections — you have the virus and the bacteria in the eye. But although we can’t treat the virus, we can definitely treat the bacteria preventatively,” the CMO explained.

He added that in rare cases, patients had complained of severe itching and runny eyes, and those so complaining were given serum.

“Initially, eye drops were not available, but now we have some. It’s not an ailment that needs antibiotics, it’s viral.

In cases of mixed and complicated infections, antibiotics and painkillers are given. We’re not giving specific medication,” he said.

Dr Mark has indicated that the situation requires education on what should be done to prevent its spread. He has adding that many staff members at the hospital were also affected. The LHC has since done its part in posting written protocols of prevention around its building. Those include advice on washing hands often to support elimination of the spread, not sharing eye drops, eye makeup and towels, among other precautionary measures. The CMO said he was aware of complaints made by affected persons, who stressed the lack of medication at the hospital. While he was unable to provide information on the total number of patients treated for the infection, the CMO noted that the numbers have since declined slightly.