Conjunctivitis outbreak triggers prevention measures in Peninsula

PHOTO: Yucatan a la Mano

Health authorities in Yucatan and Quintana Roo have activated special programs of prevention and treatment to deal with outbreaks of conjunctivitis, the eye disease that principally affects children.

However, in the face of the high number of conjunctivitis cases being reported, some treatment centers are experiencing a shortage of key medicines used to combat the illness.

The epidemiological surveillance steps include visits to schools to publicize prevention measures as well as the active search for cases to be treated.

According to the latest National Epidemiological Surveillance System (Sinave) report, from January 1 to September 2 of this year, health sector institutions had reported 17,692 cases of conjunctivitis in Yucatan, when in 2016, in the same period, the number of diagnoses was 15,091, that is, 2,601 less than now.

The 17,692 cases of this year are equal to 73.1 every day.

PHOTO: Yucatan a la Mano

In 2016, the official count was closed with 20,409 patients. In 2015 there were 20,543 and in 2014 only 4,508 were reported throughout the year.

Dr. Roberto Manuel Cedillo Rivera, Professor of the Faculty of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Yucatan (UADY), reminded the population that conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, an almost transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eye and also the eyelids on their inner face. Generally that inflammation is caused by viruses, bacteria or allergy.

“The most frequent causes are infectious, also by a stroke or allergic conjunctivitis, which is very common. It usually lasts about a week and mostly affects children, as they are not careful enough compared to an adult,” said the specialist.

Cedillo Rivera mentioned that the symptoms that appear are: Color pink or red in the white part of the eye; Inflammation of the conjunctiva or eyelids; Increased tearing; Aqueous secretion (more common in viral conjunctivitis); Itching, irritation or burning; Sensation of having a foreign body in the eye or desire to rub the eye; Sometimes crusts appear on the eyelids or eyelashes, especially in the morning; and it can cause sensitivity to bright light.

“It is recommended to use compresses and the use of lubricants, which are known as synthetic tears. They should never self-medicate with antibiotics, as these are given under medical prescription and according to the type of conjunctivitis that is present,” he stressed.

He mentioned that this disease is cyclical, typical of the season, and recommends taking precautions to avoid infection, especially if you live with an already infected person.

Finally, he added that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that health institutions carry out prevention programs such as health promotion and health education at the community level. These actions should promote that “cleaning and washing of hands is essential, this can avoid many diseases, including conjunctivitis, avoiding touching your eyes and overcrowding, identify contacts and keep sheets and clothes clean.

Meanwhile in Quintana Roo, health officials also have activated special programs of surveillance, prevention and treatment.

In a statement, the State Health Secretariat reported that in order to strengthen health promotion and epidemiological surveillance, staff of the unit is visiting schools of the 11 municipalities to disseminate measures to prevent viral diseases such as conjunctivitis.

The goal is to reduce transmission of this disease in students, teachers and parents, for which talks are offered, leaflets are distributed and informational posters are affixed.

He pointed out that in these activities personnel from the 168 health units participate, while preventive work is carried out in coordination with personnel from the Mexican Social Security Institutes (IMSS) and the Social Security and Social Services of State Workers (ISSSTE), as well as such as the Secretariats of National Defense (SEDENA) and the Navy (SEMAR).

He also said that in order to reduce the risk of transmission of this disease, it is recommended that people wash their hands frequently, avoid attending crowded places, not share personal items such as handkerchiefs, glasses, cutlery, towels, pillows, combs, brushes, cosmetics or eye drops, among others.

Sources: (Yucatan); (Q. Roo)