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Indian Express
28 April 2010

Second–year law student Swati Shetty had to skip a paper in her final examination.

She had a bout of conjunctivitis for four days and was unable to read the question paper, as there was a watery discharge from her swollen eyes. Doctors say a large number of conjunctivitis cases is being reported this summer in the city.

Conjunctivitis, a contagious disease also known as pink–eye, is an infection causing eye–reddening and watering. It leads to inflammation of the conjunctiva (membrane lining the eyelids and covering the exposed surface of the eyeball).

There are three types of conjunctivitis, viral, bacterial and allergic. Opthalmologists in the city are noting bacterial and allergic cases rising in the city.

Ophthalmologist Dr Keki Mehta said this summer, many cases of conjunctivitis due to bacteria were being reported.

“On an average, we see six to eight patients a day. Last summer we saw a lot of viral conjunctivitis but this time the bacterial infection is comparatively severe. This year, both the intensity and length of infection is high,”said Dr Mehta.

Dr T P Lahane, head, ophthalmology, JJ Hospital said conjunctivitis cases being seen in the city are allergic in nature.

“In the cultural sensitivity tests at the hospital, most conjunctivitis cases are either mixed bacterial or allergic. Of the 350 OPD patients on Monday, 11 had conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis amount to about two to three percent of the total eye problems,”said Dr Lahane.

Opthalmologists say general precautions like washing hands with water and soap should be taken, “Do not share eyedrops, eye makeup, tissues or pillow covers. Avoid rubbing or touching eyes while travelling,” added Dr Lahane.

Apart from conjunctivitis, viral infections like viral gastroenteritis and hepatitis cases are also seeing a rise. According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation records, about 1,175 patients were treated for gastroenteritis in March.

“Usually, viral infections are seen in monsoon and post monsoon. However, in summer, there is a steady rise of diseases that are viral in nature

While gastroenteritis patients report severe loose motion for over 20 to 30 days and need hospitalization for hydration, hepatitis patients show symptoms of jaundice and vomiting. It is not known why such viral infections are seen in summer,”said Dr Khusrav Bajan, consultant physician and intensivist at Hinduja Hospital.

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