Fiji Pink Eye outbreak sees 5000 cases in two weeks
Health authorities in Fiji are urging people to observe strict personal hygiene as the country goes through a massive outbreak of conjunctivitus or Pink Eye.
Health authorities in Fiji are urging people to observe strict personal hygiene as the country goes through a massive outbreak of conjunctivitis or Pink Eye.
In the past 14 days alone the number of cases of the virus in one district of Suva have jumped from 700 to 5000 cases.
Fiji's national communicable disease advisor Mike Kama says this is equivalent to the annual average for Pink Eye cases across the whole country in previous years.
Dr Kama told Bridget Tunnicliffe the outbreak began with a sudden spike three weeks ago.
MIKE KAMA: So, so far from January this year until this week our Health Information unit at the Ministry of Health has registered about a thousand, six hundred cases. But out in our field operation level, they've registered about 5000 cases in just one subdivision within the last 14 days.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: Do you think Cyclone Winston has had anything to do with this spike?
MK: We are considering that but there's no strong association at the moment that we can measure. So we're probably just calling it what it is at the moment, a surge in numbers, an outbreak.
BT: How does it get passed on to another person?
MK: Hand to eye contact and person to person. So some infected person has contact with the eyes and then that person through sharing of things, touching surfaces and things that others touch. The virus actually survives four or five days outside in the environment. So it's one of those viruses that doesn't die easily.
BT: And how important is it for people who may have it to go to the doctor?
MK: Well there's basically an influx of people into the health facility. That's presuming it's a viral conjunctivitis. It has to take its course but it will go away. There's always that element of touching it, that's why people come in for the eye-drops and I guess also for associates. It is also quite important that they stay away from work etcetera so they don't spread it on to other people. But we're trying to advise people also that, you know, personal sanitation is primary and that is what we are trying to advise to the community instead of running for anti-biotics which is probably unnecessary at this point in time if it is a virus. It should really take its course and personal sanitation is really important to adhere to, washing of hands.
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