Public Health

Epidemic of Bacterial Conjunctivitis Declared in 12 Departments

In addition to the increase in cases of dengue and repertory illnesses the Ministry of Health has stated that El Salvador is also experiencing an epidemic of Bacterial Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink-eye. Conjunctivitis is a microbial infection involving the mucous membrane of the surface of the eye.  It is usually a benign, self-limited illness, but can be serious or signify a severe underlying systematic disease. Occasionally, significant ocular and systematic morbidity may result.

The Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPAS) reports that the increase in cases of Bacterial Conjunctivitis led them to them to declare an “alarm” in 12 of the 14 departments of El Salvador. The only departments not included in the declaration were San Salvador and San Miguel.

As of August 2, 2010, 38,358 cases of Bacterial Conjunctivitis have been reported, compared to only 2,400 cases in 2009. Additionally, authorities have noted that the greatest increase in cases observed has occurred in the last few days. The Director of Health Surveillance, Julio Armero explained, “just on Sunday (August 1st) 76 cases were reported and on Monday we had 56.” In response the ministry has begun to work on a campaign to prevent further spread of this illness.

Violet Menjivar, the Vice Minister of Health clarified that the alarm was only declared in the 12 departments where an epidemic of Bacterial Conjunctivitis is present. People living in these departments should therefore undertake proper precautions to avoid catching the illness these include, washing ones hands and not touching ones eyes or mouth. These precautions are similar to the ones recommended to prevent respiratory illnesses.

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