The Ministry of Health’s Preventive Health Department on Friday released a warning about the spread of pinkeye in some northern areas, especially Hanoi, over the past two weeks, affecting thousands of people.
Just at the Central Eye Hospital, the Hanoi Eye Hospital, and a few other hospitals in the capital, the number of people needing to be examined and treated for pinkeye reached over 7,000 in that time period.
Dr. Hoang Cuong, at the Central Eye Hospital, said the epidemic is spreading rapidly, and that the clinic received 150-200 eye patients per day over the past several days.
The real number of people affected by pinkeye is certainly much higher, as there are many who treat themselves at home or at small health centers or private clinics.
Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the Preventive Health Department, warned that pinkeye, if prolonged, if not treated quickly, can cause complications that seriously affect vision
Viral and bacterial pinkeye is extremely contagious, he said, advising that everybody pay attention to measures to avoid the disease, as it can be transmitted through contact with a person’s tears, saliva, hands,
handkerchiefs, pillows, and other household items. It can also spread through coughing and sneezing.
Infected water in swimming pools, lakes, and ponds can be a sources of transmission.
Habits like rubbing yours eyes or putting your fingers into your nose or mouth also help transmit pinkeye.
Crowded places, such as hospitals, offices, classrooms, buses, trains, and other public sites, may also be sources of transmission, so people should avoid frequenting these places, he added.
Dr, Pham Ngoc Dong, at the Central Eye Hospital, advised that nobody should use leaves to cover their eyes, or any other type of therapy suggested by people, as improper treatment may cause dangerous complications.
Those infected with pinkeye need to go to eye clinics for examination and treatment, and they should strictly follow doctors’ prescriptions and instructions, Dr. Dong said.
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness and inflammation of the clear membranes covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. Pinkeye is most often caused by a virus or by a bacterial infection, although allergies, chemical agents, and underlying diseases can also play a role, eye doctors said.
Kids diagnosed with infectious pinkeye should stay out of school or day care for a short period of time. Allergic pinkeye and chemical-caused pinkeye are not contagious, doctors said.