Pink Eye reported in Mexico prompt island health authorities to take precautions

Friday, March 1st, 2019

After the Ministry of Health (MOH) alerted the country of an increase in cases of Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) in the neighbouring Mexican State of Quintana Roo, health authorities in San Pedro Town are taking precautions to avoid an outbreak on the island. According to reports from Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II, they have treated at least five cases, but so far there have been no signs of an increase on the island. The island community is advised to monitor the situation, practice proper hygiene, and to seek medical attention at the first signs of the disease.
Pink eye is caused by either bacteria or virus and can easily be spread from person to person. The usual symptoms include redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelid accompanied by pain. It is advised that ill persons limit physical contact with others as the disease is very contagious.
Dr. Nayana Harrison told The San Pedro Sun that so far there have only been minimal cases reported on the island, and that the entire staff at the Polyclinic is on high alert following the reported cases in Mexico. They have been educated the public on the disease and are keeping a close look at the cases reported so far. According to Harrison, if there is an outbreak on the island, they are prepared to tackle the disease. Harrison explained that they would isolate the sick persons and treat them at their emergency section of the clinic. She also stated that if the infection is caused by bacteria, they provide medication to combat the symptoms and the pathogens causing the disease. However, in the case of a viral infection, the medication does not necessarily work, and the patient will have to allow the illness to run its course, which usually lasts up to a week. The cases in Mexico are believed to be caused by a virus, which increases the chances of it being passed on from one person to another.
Dr. Harrison indicated that in the case of a viral infection, the virus can be found in the droplets of fluid released when a person sneezes or coughs. If any of these infected droplets encounter the eye or if a person touches a surface contaminated and touches his or her eyes, they will get sick.
In September 2017, the northern and central health regions of Belize experienced a massive outbreak of Pink Eye, which affected San Pedro. Hundreds of persons, mostly children, were treated at the island’s Polyclinic daily. Long lines could be seen outside the clinic as people sought medical attention. This outbreak eventually led to a medication shortage as a large portion of the island community was affected by the disease. The disease was known to have been caused by a bacterial infection and the most prescribed treatment at that time consisted of Ibuprofen for the pain and discomfort, and Chloramphenicol eye drops to prevent a superimposed bacterium.
While health authorities continue to monitor the situation and are not seeing an increase in Belize, the general public is advised to monitor the situation, especially when traveling to Quintana Roo in Mexico. MOH continues to be in close contact with Mexican authorities, while Belizean authorities at the northern border are vigilant with persons entering the country from Mexico.

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