Conjunctivitis Outbreak Hits Mombasa: Health Department Urges Vigilance

Mombasa, The Department of Health in Mombasa has officially confirmed the emergence of a conjunctivitis outbreak, colloquially known as red eyes, within the coastal county. In a press release, the department disclosed that multiple cases of red eye infection have been reported across various public health facilities in the region.

Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation of the thin, transparent membrane covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. The infection presents symptoms such as itching, a burning sensation, and increased tearing. County health officials have identified the potential causes to include viruses, bacteria, allergens, or irritants.

To curb the spread of the infection, health authorities are urging the public to adopt precautionary measures. Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is emphasized. In instances where soap and water are unavailable, the use of hand sanitizers containing a minimum of 60% alcohol is recommended.

Furthermore, individuals are advised against touching or rubbing their eyes to prevent the introduction of germs and irritants. If necessary, the use of a tissue or the inside of the elbow is suggested. Avoiding the sharing of personal items such as towels, pillowcases, or eye makeup is stressed, and regular washing of bedding and personal items is recommended, particularly if someone in the household is affected by conjunctivitis.

People diagnosed with conjunctivitis are encouraged to refrain from close contact with others and consider staying home from work or school until symptoms subside. The use of sunglasses is also recommended to protect the eyes from irritants and reduce the spread of infectious particles.

In addition to these precautions, the public is advised to practice good respiratory hygiene. This includes covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or the elbow when coughing or sneezing, proper disposal of tissues, and immediate handwashing afterwards.

To prevent contamination, individuals are cautioned against sharing items like eye drops, contact lenses, or contact lens cases. Regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces that come into contact with the eyes, such as eyeglasses, as well as those in contact with hands, including work surfaces, doorknobs, staircase rails, and light switches, are recommended.

The Department of Health’s notice comes on the heels of a similar alert issued by Tanzanian health authorities a week ago. Pascal Ruggajo, the Director of Curative Services in the Ministry of Health, reported a significant surge in cases, with 869 patients identified in Dar es Salaam between December 22, 2023, and January 11, 2024.

Individuals experiencing symptoms of conjunctivitis, such as redness, itching, discharge from the eyes, or blurred vision, are urged to seek medical advice promptly. The collaborative efforts of health officials and public vigilance are crucial in containing and mitigating the impact of this conjunctivitis outbreak in Mombasa and the broader region.


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