Pink eye outbreak infects over 300 people in Samoa
A rapidly spreading viral conjunctivitis known as pink eye has infected more than 300 people in Samoa.
An outbreak of 'pink eye' disease in Samoa has led authorities to set up an isolated treatment clinic and to consider closing schools in an effort to halt the rapid infection rate.
Correspondent Autagavia Tipi Autagavia told Jenny Meyer people on both islands in Samoa have picked up the viral conjunctivitis and two thirds of the 300 people infected, have contracted it in the past week.
AUTAGAVIA TIPI AUTAGAVIA TIPI: It's now an outbreak with more that 300 cases reported to the National Health Service for treatment. And in Savaii the, big island of Savaii, they are still waiting for the data. Most of the children in school are also affected. And the Ministry of Education I spoke to this morning to the secretary for the CEO and they are meeting, the CEO is meeting with the management, to consider whether to close all schools for a couple of weeks.
JENNY MEYER: That's quite a drastic situation to have to close the schools. It must be very contagious?
ATA: It is very contagious according to the Ministry of Health, because the virus according to Dr Saini Vaai, is spreading so fast.
JM: And what can be done to help people with this problem? Is there treatment? Are they getting eye drops?
ATA: Measures for avoiding of the spread, is just to make sure you clean your hands all the time after wiping your eyes. And using the paper towel or toilet roll because it's a lot softer than a piece of rag or handkerchief because if you use a handkerchief, the other person might touch it. Or if you don't clean your hands according to the doctor, you might shake hands with another person or touch that person, and that's how the virus is going to spread.
JM: And how are the hospitals coping with so many people having the same problem at the same time?
ATA: Well I think one of the measures they've established in order to stop the spread, is to have a special clinic for those people affected. And all the cases of the pink eye are all reported to that special clinic at the National Health Service. And no one is going to be treated at the outpatients; that's only for normal patients.
JM: So they're trying to isolate people with that condition are they?
ATA: Exactly, exactly.
JM: Are the hospital resources coping? Are they bringing in any extra specialists or anything like that do you know?
ATA: No, there's nothing like that. They are coping with the outbreak of the pink eye. They're only prescribing eye drops. Because Dr Imo the eye specialist was telling the media that there's a number of eye drops that can treat the pink eye disease.
JM: Okay and are there any other symptoms that go along with it?
ATA: Nothing at all.
JM: So it's just red eyes? Is there a discharge coming from the eye?
ATA: Yes it's very watery and a discharge as well. And very painful in the first couple of days, but once you take the eye drops that will help ease the pain.
Autagavia Tipi Autagavia says there are no reports of anyone suffering long term affects to their vision so far.
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