We have heard of many infectious outbreaks in the past. H1N1, Avian Flu, SARS, and just recently the Measles outbreak in the United States. Current News reports have been indicating Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Individuals there are being quarantined to control the spread of the deadly disease. Clinically, in the Lower Mainland, Eye Doctors have also been noticing a significant increase in the frequency of EKC – Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (‘Pink eye’) cases.
Ebola causes massive hemorrhaging (bleeding) of the vascular system that leads to organ failure and death. There have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Canada. There is a very low risk of contracting Ebola here in Canada, however, in other parts of the world more than 3000 lives have been taken by the disease.
Ebola symptoms are very common to the flu: fever, cough, body aches, and vomiting. More serious symptoms include chest pain, internal bleeding, external bleeding, even bleeding from the eyes.
Ebola can spread through infected animal and humans via bodily fluids and blood. Avoid direct contact with blood, saliva, urine and vomit of infected individuals.
If you experience any ebola symptoms or suspect contamination/transmission of the disease, you should seek medical attention immediately, call 911.
EPIDEMIC PINK EYE
Not all infectious diseases are fatal such as Ebola, but they may cause significant discomfort and pain. Pink Eye is a highly contagious eye infection. Pink Eye is most common in young children, but may affect adults of all ages.
Pink Eye symptoms include: swelling, redness, tearing, sensitivity to light, itch and irritation in the eyes. Severe cases include eye pain and reduced vision. It is sometimes associated with an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). Symptoms of pink eye may last for 1-3 weeks.
The highly contagious nature of PINK EYE requires the individual to stay off work and school for 10 days from the onset of the symptoms. An eye doctor should be seen as soon as possible for treatment of the eye disease. Avoid touching the eyes or face. Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching eyes or face. Avoid sharing towels, facecloths, pillows, sunglasses or lipsticks. Discard soft contact lenses and makeup that were used within 7 days of symptom onset. Don’t use contact lenses or makeup until your eye doctor has approved it (this is usually at least 2 days after symptoms resolve). Follow your eye doctors recommondations and maintain your follow-up appointments with the eye doctor to manage appropriately and avoid permanent scarring and damage to the eyes.
PREVENTION IS KEY
In any case of infectious disease, preventing the transmission of the disease is crucial. Hand hygiene is the most important step. WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
Focus on Ebola. Managing the ocular effects of the disease. By Evra Taylor. Envision Magazine. January-February Edition. Pages 22-23.