14 September 2010
By Anahita Mukherji & Malathy Iyer
It’s September, and conjunctivitis stalking classrooms in the city again. In what is being touted as an intense outbreak of the disease, students displaying the classic symptoms–red, watering eyes–are routinely being sent back home from school.
As TOI had reported in its September 11 edition, the city is reeling from an outbreak of conjunctivitis. J J Hospital’s ophthalmology department is reportedly seeing 10 to 12 new cases every day, with doctors diagnosing three causes for the outbreak: viral, bacterial or allergic.
In fact, doctors fear that the Ganpati celebrations could lead to a further spurt in cases.
"People are keen to visit as many pandals as possible and conjunctivitis won’t deter them, but this could increase the incidence of the disease," said Dr T P Lahane, dean of J J Group of Hospitals and a leading eye surgeon. Red Eye Alert
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and can be caused by a virus, bacteria and allergens
- Protect eyes from dirt
- Wash face and eyelids with mild soap
- Wash bed linens, pillowcases, and towels with hot water and detergent
- Keep children at home until the infection subsides
- Do not touch or rub the infected eye(s)
- Avoid sharing common articles such as unwashed towels, cups, glasses
- Do not use eye drops in a noninfected eye that were used for an infected one ‘Stay away from pandals to avoid sore eyes’
Indeed, school principals are reporting a dip in attendance. Said Sudeshna Chatterjee, principal of Jamnabai Narsee School, Juhu, "A lot of children have been suffering from viral infections, including conjunctivitis, from the start of the academic year. Our healthcare unit at school has had its hands full this season."
The experience at Avabai Petit School in Bandra is not any different. "We have had quite a few children with conjunctivitis this season. This includes children in the pre-primary section as well. Often, children come to school with red eyes. Their parents don’t realize how serious it is, but within a few hours, their eyes are very red and sore, and start watering. We have to call their parents and inform them that their children have conjunctivitis," said principal Sandhya Balakrishnan.
In medical terms, it’s not yet a conjunctivitis epidemic, add doctors. "There is more of conjunctivitis this time–say, 10% more–than last year," said Dr Lahane, but it isn’t yet an epidemic. "Patients should be told to stay indoors for seven days before they visit Ganpati pandals."
Hinduja Hospital’s Dr Nishita Agarwala warns against self-medication. "There is more conjunctivitis than before, but it is usual for this part of the year. What people should do is avoid steroid drops. It is best to go to a doctor."