An outbreak of conjunctivitis, or “pink eye” has been reported in the canton of Garabito in Puntarenas province, according to a Costa Rica Star report.

Image/P33tr at English Wikipedia

The infection has affected some 1,000 people in the municipality. It is suspected that the cause is viral; however, confirmation is pending.

Pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is a common eye ailment caused by an infection or inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the clear, thin membrane that covers the white portion of the eyes as well as the inner surface of the eyelids.

The three common causes of pink eye are viral, bacterial and allergic. The symptoms of each form are listed below:

Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms

• Watery eyes accompanied with discharge are usual.
• Discomfort in the eye with itchiness maybe present.
• The infection usually affects one eye but can move to both.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis Symptoms

• Watery eyes followed with yellow or green discharge are natural occurrences.
• Irritation can be found along with an itchy feeling.
• The infection usually starts with one eye and can spread to the other.

Related: Many ‘pink eye’ infections treated unnecessarily with antibiotics: Study

Allergic Conjunctivitis Symptoms

• Heavy tearing, discomfort, and itchiness affecting both eyes are especially likely.

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious. Only bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotics.

The incubation of the virus takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.  It is quite contagious and it can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual’s secretions, usually hand-eye contact or sharing of personal objects (towels, makeup, etc.).

Preventive measures include:

  1. Not touching your eyes with unwashed hands
  2. Wash your hands often and thoroughly
  3. Use a clean towel daily and don’t share it
  4. Change your pillowcases with regularity
  5. Do not share eye cosmetics such as mascara or eye shadows
  6. Do not use swimming pools