8 Feb 2008

Marshall Islands tries to cope with soaring numbers of conjunctivitus sufferers

2:51 pm on 8 February 2008

The Marshall Islands Ministry of Health is reporting a huge outbreak of conjunctivitis, or pink eye, on Majuro atoll.

Pacific Magazine quotes ministry statistics that 148 cases were diagnosed between January 28 and February 3, three times the number reported over the previous three weeks.

Another 52 cases were reported on Monday this week.

The latest figures compare with 41 cases of pink eye reported last November, and 54 cases in December.

The ministry is reporting that it is dispensing hand sanitisers at its clinics, while the pharmacy at Majuro's only hospital is dispensing solution and ointment to treat the symptoms of conjunctivitis.

The ministry says the current pinkeye outbreak is characterised by sudden red eye with watery discharge, itchy and painful eyelids, purulent eye discharge, headache and increased sensitivity to sunlight.

It will usually affect both eyes, and the disease is very contagious.

The ministry says the pinkeye outbreak appears to be limited to Majuro atoll.