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Urgent Call for Action: eThekwini Faces Pink Eye Outbreak

Annisa Essack |
4th March 2024 | 11:00 CAT
2-minute read

A pink eye (conjunctivitis) outbreak was recently confirmed in Kwazulu Natal, prompting urgent action from KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane.

Simelane revealed that within the eThekwini district, there were 161 confirmed cases. Last month alone, 55 cases were identified at Clairwood Hospital, 50 at KZN Children’s Hospital, 39 at the Cato Manor Community Health Centre, 15 at McCord Hospital, and two at Halley Stott Clinic.

But what exactly is Pink Eye? It’s an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the eyelid and eyeball. This inflammation causes the white part of the eye (sclera) to appear pink or red due to swollen and irritated blood vessels.

Pink Eye is commonly caused by viral infections, making it highly contagious. Other causes include bacteria, allergens, chemical splashes, foreign objects in the eye, blocked tear ducts in newborns, contact lens use, fungi, and certain diseases.

Prevention is key. Avoid touching your eyes with your hands, wash your hands frequently, use clean towels and face cloths daily, avoid sharing personal items like towels and cosmetics, change pillowcases often, and discard old eye cosmetics. Schools should implement appropriate measures to prevent the spread among students.

If you’re wondering how to treat pink eye, antibiotics, or eye drops can help shorten the infection time and reduce its spread. Applying a warm face cloth over the eyes can also bring relief, but use separate cloths for each eye.

Simelane emphasises the importance of not ignoring symptoms and encourages affected individuals to visit their nearest clinic promptly. As we navigate this outbreak, let’s revisit the good hygiene practices we adopted during COVID-19, such as regular handwashing and sanitising. If you suspect you may have contracted Pink Eye, seek immediate treatment.

Let’s prioritise our health and the well-being of our community by staying informed and taking proactive measures against Pink Eye.


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