The most common causes of conjunctivitis are viruses and bacteria. In the case of Saint Lucia, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed that enterovirus was isolated in viral swabs that were taken from the eye secretions of persons with the disease. Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis is very contagious and can spread easily from person to person.
Locally, there has been a decrease in the number of cases reported although the south of the island continues to report the highest numbers. However, with the reopening of school next week it is possible that small outbreaks may occur in schools if children with the disease are sent to school.
Persons suspected of having conjunctivitis may experience eye symptoms such as redness, irritation, itchiness, production of excessive tears, clear or yellow discharge that may make the eyelids stick together, especially on mornings, and swelling of the eye lids.
In order to reduce the risk of getting conjunctivitis or spreading it to someone else, members of the public are advised to avoid close contact with persons who are ill with conjunctival symptoms, avoid touching eyes/face with dirty hands, and to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer. Be sure to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces in common areas such as doorknobs and counter-tops.
It is not advisable to share personal items such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye make-up, face make-up, make-up brushes, contact lenses and contact lens containers, or eyeglasses.
If you are infected, avoid using make-up and applicators, (for example brushes and sponges). Be sure to wash hands well before and after cleaning your infected eye. Once the infection goes away, it is important to avoid re-infection. Get rid of disposable contact lenses and cases that you used while your eyes were infected.
Management consists of symptomatic treatment as there is no recommended treatment for viral conjunctivitis. The infection is expected to run a course of 5-7 days. Steroid eye drops should not be used as they can cause further damage to the eye.