The Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services wishes to advise the public of an increase number of cases of conjunctivitis in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).

Turks and Caicos Islands Providenciales Image/ M.Minderhoud
Turks and Caicos Islands Providenciales
Image/ M.Minderhoud

Conjunctivitis, also called “pink eye”, is defined as an inflammation of the conjunctiva and can be caused by virus, bacteria or allergy. It can affect children and adults.  Viral conjunctivitis is typically caused by a virus that can also cause the common cold. A person may have symptoms of conjunctivitis alone, or as part of a general cold syndrome like fever, a sore throat, and runny nose.

Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Usually, people catch it from touching something that has been in contact with an infected person’s eye (eg, door handle, towel or pillow case) and then that person touches his or her eyes.

If you have pink eye, your eye (or eyes) might:

●Turn pink or red

●Weep or ooze a gooey liquid

●Become itchy or burn

●Get stuck shut, especially when you first wake up

The symptoms can last for several days.

The treatment depends on the cause. When pink eye is caused by a virus, the antibiotics will not help. You can use warm or cool compresses, to relieve the pain and irritation in the eyes.

Most cases of pink eye go away on their own without treatment, but it is best to see your primary care physician if you are experiencing these symptoms so that you can be treated properly.

Simple hygiene measures can help minimize transmission to others.

●Adults or children with bacterial or viral conjunctivitis should not share handkerchiefs, tissues, towels, cosmetics, or bed sheets/pillows with uninfected family or friends.

●Hand washing is an essential and highly effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Hands should be wet with water and plain soap, and rubbed together for 15 to 30 seconds. Teach children to wash their hands before and after eating and after touching the eyes, coughing, or sneezing.

●Alcohol-based hand rubs are a good alternative for disinfecting hands if a sink is not available.

Persons with viral conjunctivitis must remain home from school and work to avoid spreading the virus to others.