Govt confirms 13 cases of red eye disease in Arua city schools

Govt confirms 13 cases of red eye infections in Arua city schools
A red eyes patient.

Arua, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Ministry of Health has confirmed 13 cases of conjunctivitis, commonly known as “red eyes disease,” within schools in Arua City.

Arua City health officials have reported at least 13 suspected cases of red eye, with six of these cases meeting the defined criteria for the disease.

Dr. Pontius Apangu, the principal health officer for Arua City, elaborates that the suspected cases involve students from Arua Technical Institute Ragem situated along the Arua-Pakwach highway in Ayivu Division.

He further mentions that additional alerts of suspected cases of red eye have been received from schools in Tanganyika ward, Arua Central division. According to Apangu, the suspected cases are currently isolated and undergoing treatment.

“Arua City has registered 13 suspected cases of red eye of students from Ragem Technical and some are in Tanganyika ward,” Dr. Apangu said in a statement.

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as “red eye,” is a highly contagious infection that affects the membrane covering the eyeball (the white part) and the inside of the eyelid. While viral causes are most common, bacterial infections, allergens, or certain eye medications can also trigger the condition.

According to information from the Ministry of Health, the disease can be transmitted from person to person through various means, including hand-to-eye contact, sharing personal items like towels or pillowcases, facial contact, or the sharing of eye drops or eyeglasses.

Benard Amaga, the Health Educator for Arua City, told this publication that schools and teachers have been advised to remain vigilant in identifying and reporting suspected cases, while also emphasizing the importance of hand hygiene and general cleanliness.

“Schools authorities should in the meantime re-activate prevention measures such as frequent handwashing with water and soap”, he said.

The most recent development follows nearly fourteen years after an outbreak of Red Eye disease affected over 10 schools in Arua.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of conjunctivitis in Kampala, initially reported within school settings.

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Close-up view of an eye affected by conjunctivitis, showing characteristic redness and irritation.

Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as “red eye” or “pink eye” disease is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer of tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelid. This condition can result from various causes, including viral or bacterial infections, allergies, or irritants.

Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with respiratory infections such as the common cold and is highly contagious. It spreads through contact with respiratory secretions or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching the eyes. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include redness, watery discharge, irritation, and sometimes swelling of the eyelids.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can occur as a secondary infection following a cold or other respiratory illness or due to poor hygiene practices. Symptoms typically include redness, thick yellow or green discharge, and crusting of the eyelids, particularly upon waking.

Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the conjunctiva becomes inflamed due to exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. It often presents with itching, redness, tearing, and swelling of the eyelids.

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Conjunctivitis can also be caused by irritants such as smoke, chlorine in swimming pools, or chemicals in cosmetics or contact lens solutions. Symptoms may vary depending on the specific irritant but commonly include redness, tearing, and discomfort.

Treatment for conjunctivitis depends on the underlying cause. Viral conjunctivitis typically resolves on its own within one to two weeks, with supportive care such as cold compresses and artificial tears to alleviate symptoms.

Bacterial conjunctivitis may require antibiotic eye drops or ointment to clear the infection. Allergic conjunctivitis may be managed with antihistamine eye drops or oral medications to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.

Preventive measures to reduce the risk of conjunctivitis include practicing good hand hygiene, avoiding touching the eyes with unwashed hands, avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or eye makeup, and avoiding close contact with individuals who have contagious forms of conjunctivitis.