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Apia worst hit by eye disease

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Most of the 80 cases of “pink eye” that have already shown up at hospital have come from Apia, say health authorities, who warn against using home remedies like breast milk or salt water.

Authorities are concerned at the number of cases this early in the year when compared with 200 for the whole of 2013.

They are urging the public to take simple precautions against catching the temporary disease, and not spreading it if they already have conjunctivitis.

“If you have pink eye, you need to stay away from work or school to avoid spreading pink eye”, said Dr. Mau Imo, Head of the National Eye Unit.

“Use tissues to wipe your eyes, avoid using a towel and make sure to wash your hands and rest.”

Dr. Imo was speaking during a press conference to let the public know what needs to be done if they get pink eye. She was joined by the head of the National Surveillance and International Health Registry, Tuliau Dr. Saine Vaai Nielsen.

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Dr. Imo advised that general cleanliness is the best way to protect families and everyone from conjunctivitis. The sudden increase in cases caused concern at the Ministry.

“Which is why we have called a press conference to tell the public that the number of cases has increased within just two months.

“We don’t want to alarm the public but we are concerned that the number of cases has increased and that is why we need to enforce the message of cleanliness in our families to avoid pink eye from spreading,” she said.

“We are trying to prevent pink eye from spreading too much and try to control it.”

Dr. Imo stated that popular remedies like breast milk and salt water can cause more problems than they cure.

“A lot of pink eye patients that have come to the hospital now have got puss coming out of their eyes, this is caused by using breast milk,” said Dr. Imo.

“Breast milk and salty water cannot kill the bacteria that’s causing pink eye. That’s why I urged the public to please avoid using breast milk or salty water, because it will make it worst.

“Pink eye will heal on its own after 2-3 weeks, some people will have pink eye for up to four weeks.

“If after four weeks and there is still no change then you need to come to the hospital to get eye drops.”

Dr. Imo also reminded the public that pink eye will cause eyes to be itchy, but to avoid rubbing it.

“I know your eyes will be very itchy, but avoid rubbing it because it will make it even worse, use a warm towel to put on your eyes - that warm towel will help your eyes to cool down.

“Stay home from work and also if your child has pink eye, make them stay home because if he goes to school he will be spreading pink eye through other children.”

Dr. Saine stated that the 80 cases affected by pink eye have not yet been fully analysed, but most of them are from the Apia district area.

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