In a follow-up to a report of a suspected outbreak of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (USVI), health officials confirmed the outbreak yesterday.

US Virgin Islands Image/M.Minderhoud
US Virgin Islands

About three weeks ago, the USVI Department of Health received reports of more than 30 suspected cases of the infection from multiple ophthalmology practices on St. Thomas.

Samples sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that the outbreak was due to EKC.

“So far mostly adults are affected and cases are associated with ophthalmology clinics,” territorial epidemiologist Esther Ellis said. “No schools have reported cases yet, but the DOH is investigating all cases now to gather more information.”

The fact that the number of cases are so much higher than normal, USVI Department of Health has requested the CDC to assist in the outbreak investigation.

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”.