US Virgin Islands report epidemic keratoconjunctivitis outbreak in St. Thomas - Outbreak News Today | Outbreak News Today Outbreak News Today
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Health officials in the US Virgin Islands (UVI) are investigating an outbreak of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) diagnosed at an ophthalmology practice in St. Thomas.

conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis or pink eye
Image/Video Screen Shot

Thirty probable cases have been reported and confirmatory testing is pending.

EKC is a highly contagious viral conjunctivitis that can cause corneal scarring. Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a membrane that covers the sclera and inside of the eyelids. The inflammation results in a pink or red coloration of the eye hence the disease being commonly referred to as “pink eye”.

UVI health officials said in an alert Friday, EKC is very contagious and children should stay home from school until symptoms are gone or until cleared by a doctor.

Symptoms of EKC include a feeling that something is in the eye; redness, irritation and itchiness of the eyes; clear or yellow drainage that may make the eyelids stick together; swelling of the eyelids; sensitivity to light; blurred vision and eye pain.

Health officials offer the following suggestions to prevent the spread:  Avoid touching your eyes whenever possible. If you do touch your eyes, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water;  avoid touching other people unless your hands are freshly washed; avoid hugging or kissing with close face-to-face contact during an EKC outbreak; Dispose of or carefully wash items (hot water and detergent) that touch your eyes; do not share eye makeup or other items used on the eyes (towels, tissues, eye drops, eye medications); use a separate towel and face cloth for each member of the household; cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and use disposable tissues to blow your nose, sneeze or cough.

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4 Comments

  1. […] Health officials in the US Virgin Islands (UVI) are investigating an outbreak of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) diagnosed at an ophthalmology practice in St. Thomas. Thirty probable cases have been reported and confirmatory testing is pending. EKC is a highly contagious viral conjunctivitis that can cause corneal scarring. Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is a […] Latin America and the Caribbean – Outbreak News Today […]

  2. […] a follow-up to a report of a suspected outbreak of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI), health officials […]

  3. Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) outbreaks were reported as early as the 1940s in the United States. Nearly 80 years later, EKC remains a major eye health concern in the US and worldwide. Of particular concern is that a significant number of EKC cluster outbreaks in the US are healthcare acquired infections (HAIs) at ophthalmology offices. Irvine, California experienced a massive cluster outbreak at one eye doctor’s office several years ago and there are long term and severe sequelae. Therefore, immediate attention to enhancing best practices of standardization and universal precautions in ophthalmology is paramount.

    We recently published a scientific, peer reviewed article on this topic
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27376504

    Hundreds of thousands of people acquire this terrible eye infection in the US alone annually, often in the course of a routine eye exam through improperly disinfected eye exam equipment. Public awareness is key and a push to the American Academy of Ophthalmology to immediately change its guidelines.

    http://www.pr.com/press-release/664784

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