RED EYES DISEASE OUTBREAK: How to protect yourself and others

The Ministry of Health has confirmed an ongoing outbreak of conjunctivitis, commonly known as red eyes in Kampala District and prison facilities.

According to a statement by Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, on behalf of the Director General Services, the outbreak has been identified in several schools in the capital city and eight prison facilities in the country.

“The affected divisions within Kampala district are Nakawa and Rubaga. The affected prisons include Luzira Upper Prison, Murchison Bay Prison, Kasanda Prison, Kaweeri Prison, Lira Main Prison, Erute Prison, Pader Prison, and Kampala Remand Prison,” said Kyabayinze.

As of March 13, 2024, the ministry had confirmed a total of 954 cumulative cases with an incidence of 353.

“So far a total of 790 cases cumulatively have been diagnosed in the affected prison facilities, of which 711 have been declared as recovered giving a recovery rate of 90%. The incident cases are mainly admitted as new inmates by police who initiate the cascade of in-custody transmission,” he noted.

About Conjunctivitis

It is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball and lines the eyelids and can be caused by various factors including viral infections, seasonal allergies, bacterial infections, and reactions to eye medications.

Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread from person to person through direct contact, sharing of personal items such as towels or pillowcases, facial contact, or sharing of eye drops or eyeglasses.

Symptoms may include redness in the white of the eye or inner eyelids, increased tears, thick yellow discharge over the eyelashes, itching, blurred vision, and sensibility to light. The contagious period lies within the first 10-12 days, infection can last up to three weeks.

Prevention of Conjunctivitis

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) through its directorate of Education and Social Services, has asked school heads, teachers, and parents from both Private and Government Schools to be cautious about the Red eyes disease in their areas.

“We have been alerted by the Director Public Health and Environment, of an outbreak of Conjunctivitis (red eye disease) in Kampala. Cases have already been reported in some of our schools and education institutions.” reads part of the circular by Charles Magino, Acting Director Education and Social Services in KCCA.

These have been advised accordingly and guided by our Health teams to re-activate the existing infection prevention measures in schools.

Among the measures is to frequently wash their hands with water and soap, and avoid touching or rubbing their eyes.

At the same time, parents have been advised to avoid shaking hands and close contact with one another as well as to ensure the screening of all visitors coming to the schools and institutions.

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