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Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry of Health and Environment, Dr. Eva Lewis-Fuller, has announced that the outbreak of conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye, which has been affecting most of the island in recent months, is now on the decline.
Referring to the latest available data issued by the Surveillance Unit of the Health Promotion and Protection Division, Dr. Lewis-Fuller said that the number of cases reported had declined from 2,433 in September to 1,929 at the end of October.
Providing a parish by parish breakdown, she said that from the data provided, the infection seemed to have started in St. Catherine. “We noticed that St. Catherine had the highest attack rate, with the number of cases per population at 500 per 100,000, compared to other parishes with a much lower attack rate. Kingston and St. Andrew for example had an attack rate of 150 per 100,000.”
St. Catherine has a total of 1,521 reported cases for January to October 2008. Other parishes with more than 1,000 cases for the same period include St. Ann with 1,269, Kingston and St. Andrew with 1,189, and St. Mary with 1,132.
Dr. Lewis Fuller has attributed the successful reduction in conjunctivitis infections, to the Ministry’s urgent response by way of a national public education campaign in implementing measures to contain the outbreak. This she said was done mainly in the print and electronic media, as well as through efforts at the community level. Flyleaves outlining the symptoms, treatments and preventive measures were distributed at health centres, hospitals, and other strategic locations.
Dr. Lewis-Fuller however, cautioned Jamaicans, to continue to adhere to the relevant preventive measures to ward off the possibility of re-infection. She emphatically stated that “re-infection is a real possibility. Having had it does not confer immunity on anybody as you can get conjunctivitis again and again,” she pointed out.