Pink eye cases peak at 16,000 Officials say cases decreasing
Pink Eye cases have exceeded the 16,000 mark, but the number of infections have started to decrease from week to week, an official from the Ministry of Health told the Reporter on Wednesday.
Between September 10 and this past Monday, October 23, a total of 16,059 cases of pink eye were reported to the Ministry of Health, with the Belize district clearly recording the highest number of infections by almost half, with 7,307 cases during that period. The Cayo district registered the second highest number of cases with 2,287 and Stann Creek had 2,167 cases. Corozal was next with 2,025 cases, Orange Walk had 1,326 pink eye patients, and Toledo had the least number with 947 cases.
But despite these high numbers, Epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ethan Gough conveyed to the Reporter that there seems to be some improvement: “Overall, we are seeing a decline in the number of cases reported in each district.”
Gough used statistics to support his observation. Two weeks ago, the number of cases per district were as follows: Corozal: 184; Orange Walk: 66; Belize: 1216; Cayo: 569; Stann Creek: 707; and Toledo: 349.
Last week, however, the number of cases per district were even lower, as follows: Corozal: 81; Orange Walk: 49; Belize: 522; Cayo: 321; Stann Creek: 577; and Toledo: 311.
Meanwhile, there have reportedly been more than 5,000 claims at the Social Security Board for pink eye sick leave, amounting to more than $700,000 in sick benefit relief. These figures do not reflect claims for cases yet to occur before the outbreak is over.
The infections for this year eclipse those from last year, when only 2,524 pink eye cases were recorded up to the same time in 2016.
Gough said the Ministry expects the numbers to continue to fall, but that if people become careless with their preventative measures, it is possible to see a resurgence of infections. Hence, the Ministry urges the public to continue to adhere to the advisory. That includes washing hands often, especially before and after touching the eyes. Disinfecting surfaces that are frequently touched is also advised, as well as not sharing eyewear or eye products. Also, staying away from huge crowds, especially if you have pink eye, is advised. Another advice is to avoid shaking hands with infected persons. Washing sheets and pillow cases in warm water can also help to prevent the spread of the infection.
People in the two southern districts, where the decreasing numbers are not so pronounced, are urged to follow the advisory. The Ministry says it will monitor those districts over the next few weeks.The Reporter