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Sep 25, 2017

Tests Ordered to Determine Cause of Conjunctivitis

Ethan Gough

Health officials believe that they are dealing with a viral case of pink eye, which proliferates quicker than a bacterial outbreak.  Dr. Gough says that samples will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad in the days ahead.

 

Dr. Ethan Gough, Epidemiologist

“Last week we had eight hundred and seventy cases.  Reported this week so far we have a hundred and thirty-one and we’re just at Monday.  In total, for the past three weeks we’ve had one thousand, one hundred and eight cases reported.  So an outbreak of this magnitude for conjunctivitis is, you don’t normally see this in my experience.  I think the last time we had an outbreak of conjunctivitis that was this large was probably somewhere between 2003 and 2005. We think that what we’re dealing with at the moment is viral conjunctivitis which tends to spread a lot more easily than one that’s caused by bacteria, but we are trying to confirm that.  We have asked the districts to take biological specimens, swabs from the eyes of patients that come into their health facilities so that we can get them tested at the Central Medical Laboratory for bacteria.  So far the report from the Central Medical Lab is that they are not seeing any of those specimens showing evidence of bacterial infection and we will be sending this week, specimens to CARPHA, the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad because they can do viral testing and then we’ll know for sure what we’re dealing with.”

 

The most common infectious causes of conjunctivitis are viral, followed by bacterial, inflaming the outermost layer of the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid.

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