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Oct 12, 2017

M.O.H. Says Pink Eye Cases Have Not Peaked – 9,000 in a Month

Marvin Manzanero

This evening, following meetings with the Pan American Health Organization and gathering of formal reports, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero updated News Five with the very latest statistics on what has become a national and regional health epidemic. The Ministry of Health now reports upwards of eleven thousand cases of conjunctivitis from the start of 2017, versus just two thousand, four hundred and twenty-six to this point last year. The figures for 2017 stood just over two thousand, two hundred cases up to about the second week of September, when the first reports started coming in. According to Dr. Manzanero, the regional public health lab has identified the viral strain causing the outbreak, but he warns that despite a trend of reducing cases in the North, the ‘pink eye’ outbreak has not yet reached its peak.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“Data we managed to tabulate earlier in the week which ended for the epidemiological week last week, is suggesting that we still have not peaked in terms of the total amount of cases. The epidemic, according to our estimation, started four weeks ago when we started seeing the increase in numbers. In the last four weeks we have seen a little more than nine thousand cases. The vast majority of those, close to seven thousand cases, were in the last two weeks. So at week thirty-nine, we were at three thousand six hundred, and last week we had four thousand three hundred, something like that. In the previous thirty-six weeks – in the first nine months of this year, more or less – we only had had two thousand, two hundred plus cases, so that means that for the year, we have had close to eleven thousand cases; nine thousand of those have been in the current epidemic that we have.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And in terms of why the sudden jump, that’s still being looked into?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Yes. This is the normal pattern of epidemics. Some countries will peak at different rates – I know some countries in the region have peaked after eleven weeks; we are in week five of our epidemic. When you start breaking it down by district and doing rates; Corozal and Orange Walk have had decreasing rates over the last week; the Stann Creek District and the Belize District have had increases in rates; Cayo has had increase in rates as well. So it seem that Cayo, Stann Creek and Belize District has just started to go up, Corozal and Orange Walk are starting to go down, and Toledo – it doesn’t seem that the epidemic has fully reached there yet.  We got the results back from CARPHA of the testing that we had done with some random samples we took. So eighteen results were sent back to us today; fourteen of those samples came back positive for an enterovirus, which is consistent with what had been reported in the region in terms of the epidemic, and it’s also consistent with what we have been saying, that this is not a bacterial conjunctivitis epidemic that we have, so the lab data substantiates what we were initially considering.”

 

In Friday’s newscast we will have much more from Dr. Manzanero, including why the suddenly booming eye-drop industry may not save you from the pain of pink eye.

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