Mumbai: Conjunctivitis cases have surged five fold across the city in five days, jumping from 102 on July 26 to 607 on July 31, according to the state health department.
The state has reported more than 80,000 cases until July 31 in this calendar year. There has been a 60 per cent increase in cases of viral conjunctivitis because of seasonal changes, said a senior health official.
Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens, and in some cases can be highly infectious, said health officials.
Precautions to avoid Conjunctivitis
“The infection is not serious but can spread fast and the most common cause behind conjunctivitis infection is adenovirus, which causes the common cold and other upper respiratory tract infections. To prevent infection, people should follow good hygiene. Individuals with conjunctivitis infection should isolate themselves at home and take rest,” said the official.
“We have issued an advisory for increasing conjunctivitis cases across the city. We have been seeing some cases, but this happens every time there is a weather change,” said Dr Daksha Shah, Executive Health Officer, BMC.
Cases rise during monsoon
During the monsoon, the chance of contracting conjunctivitis increases substantially because of the high humidity level, which is favourable for viral growth, said Dr Nikhil Sardar, Senior Consultant, Ophthalmology, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital.
Doctors have observed a substantial increase in the cases this year, with 30-40 per cent of those affected being children. Most patients are complaining about redness, swelling, itchy or watery eyes, doctors said. Only 1 per cent of these cases develop advanced conjunctivitis, which causes permanent damage to the cornea, but no such case has been observed this year, they said.
“We are treating patients who complain of traditional symptoms. None of them are experiencing any new set of symptoms. The most effective prevention for conjunctivitis is maintaining good hygiene. Regularly wash hands, use separate and clean towels. For children with the condition, ensure they stay home or avoid close contact with others to minimize the spread,” he said.
Buldhana district has recorded the most number of cases till July 31 this year (13,550), followed by Pune (8,808), Akola (6,125), Amravati (5,539), Dhule (4,743), Jalgaon (4,717), Gondia (4,209), Nanded (4,113), Washim (3,997) and Parbhani (3,718),
Dr Kailas Baviskar, the deputy director of health services, said they have been conducting door-to-door surveys in areas where conjunctivitis cases are being reported. An advisory about the infection has issued by the department last week.
“We have prepared a prototype for disease management and prevention and issued it to all districts. Cities that have reported conjunctivitis cases have been asked to conduct screening of school children and provide treatment to those diagnosed with conjunctivitis,” he said.
“Following the outbreak, the team of the National Institute of Virology and the state surveillance team visited Alandi. All health facilities across the state have been provided adequate stock of medicines required for the treatment of conjunctivitis,” he said.