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Oct 12, 2017

Healthy Living Reviews Pink Eye Plan

We know you may be tired of hearing about the eye infection sweeping across the country. But it is not a time to let your guard down. The public health clinics are still seeing a large number of new infections daily. As you heard earlier, the Ministry of Health is reporting that in just one month, a total of nine thousand and eighty-two cases have been reported in Belize due to the epidemic which started back in mid-September. While it is expected that the number of new cases will eventually begin to decrease. We must still maintain proper preventative strategies: Healthy Living offers a few more reminders.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It’s been a little over a months since the soar in cases of conjunctivitis in Belize. Families have stocked up on soap and hand sanitizers; attempting to prevent the dreaded eye infection. How do you know if you’ve come in contact with the virus? Swelling, itching, burning, teary eyes are some common signs of the infection but it’s advised to visit a clinic for an official diagnosis.


Melissa Diaz

Dr. Melissa Diaz, Primary Care Coordinator, Central Health Region, MOH
“Incubation period is short. Within hours or 24 hours or even less for you to start with symptoms. Generally we’ll see people are having symptoms for about five to seven days. It really depends on the severity of the illness that you get. It’s different from let’s say the chicken pox virus that once you mount a response that you don’t get it again. With pink eye you can. There are many different viruses that can cause it. So you can definitely get re-infected.”


Whether bacterial or viral, the symptoms are the similar. The major difference is that viral conjunctivitis – as is currently seen in this outbreak – is highly contagious. This is why; the Ministry of Health continues to urge Belizeans who have contracted pink eye to stay out of public areas.


Dr. Melissa Diaz

“What do we need to do to reduce the number of cases we’re seeing? Isolation. Separating yourself from the general public for the duration of the illness. Try not to touch your eyes even though its irritating its itching its painful, were asking you to wash your eyes with water, just distilled water or water from the pip you can also purchase artificial tears and out it in every hour every two hours. All of these things will help to alleviate some of your symptoms and stop you from touching your eyes which will make you less likely to be spreading the illness. We’re asking parents to keep children at home if they’d have pink eye from schools at every level from workplaces as well. We are also asking vendors, food handlers not be selling food, not be handling for with conjunctivitis as everybody who purchases from you is at risk of the developing conjunctivitis as well.”


Sunglasses are not enough to prevent the spread of the disease. The Ministry of Health posted a reminder that the Public Health Act does include offenses about willfully exposing people to infectious diseases and the employers’ responsibility to release workers who are infected with infectious diseases.  Even businesses have posted their own warnings to customers like this hardware store. Ultimately, there is a collective responsibility in minimizing cases.


Dr. Melissa Diaz

“Hand washing is key, washing your hands as often as possible, you can use hand sanitizers, you can use alcohol. In your workplace you can spray the door handles and phones with Lysol and avoid touching your face and avoid touching your eyes. So kindly just isolate hand washing avoid touching your face and eyes, artificial tears and eye watching as much as possible.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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