Saturday, April 20, 2024

Conjunctivitis outbreak hits Mambwe


Conjunctivits outbreak
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Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the eyeball. This membrane, known as the conjunctiva, becomes swollen and irritated when small blood vessels within it are inflamed. As a result, the whites of the eyes may appear reddish or pink, giving rise to the term “pink eye.”

An outbreak of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, has emerged in Mambwe District, located in Eastern Province, alarming health authorities and residents alike.

Moses Sakala, the Surveillance Officer for Mambwe District, confirmed that the district has been grappling with a significant surge in conjunctivitis cases, with a total of 1149 cumulative cases reported as of yesterday.

According to Sakala, the first case was detected at Mfuwe Day Secondary School on March 6th, 2024. The initial patient, a 16-year-old pupil, exhibited classic symptoms of conjunctivitis, including swollen eyelids, whitish discharge, and reddish eyes.

Subsequently, the infection rapidly spread, affecting 72 more pupils the following day. The situation escalated further when nine health staff from four different facilities also fell victim to the contagious eye ailment.

Addressing an emergency district ad hoc epidemic preparedness, prevention, control, and management meeting, Sakala highlighted the urgency of the situation. He emphasized that the infection had disseminated across various parts of the district, prompting school authorities to send numerous affected pupils back home.

Tests were promptly conducted, and samples were dispatched to both Chipata and Lusaka for further analysis. The objective is to identify the causative organism responsible for the outbreak, which could be either bacterial or viral in nature. While samples were sent to Lusaka for screening viral organisms, those sent to Chipata aimed to identify bacterial culprits.

Meanwhile, local authorities have taken proactive measures to contain the spread of the infection. Enhanced isolation protocols for affected pupils have been implemented in collaboration with health facilities, and water sampling initiatives utilizing H2S field kits are underway.

Residents of Mambwe District have been urged to seek timely medical attention at the nearest health facility. Early diagnosis and treatment have proven pivotal in managing conjunctivitis effectively, underscoring the importance of swift action in combating the outbreak.


Pink eye is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball. This membrane is called the conjunctiva. When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become swollen and irritated, they’re more visible. This is what causes the whites of the eyes to appear reddish or pink. Pink eye also is called conjunctivitis

Pink eye is most often caused by a viral infection. It also can be caused by a bacterial infection, an allergic reaction or — in babies — an incompletely opened tear duct.

Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision. Treatments can help ease the discomfort of pink eye. Because pink eye can be contagious, getting an early diagnosis and taking certain precautions can help limit its spread.


The most common pink eye symptoms include:

Redness in one or both eyes.
Itchiness in one or both eyes.
A gritty feeling in one or both eyes.
A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eye or eyes from opening in the morning.
Sensitivity to light, called photophobia.

When to see a doctor

There are serious eye conditions that can cause eye redness. These conditions may cause eye pain, a feeling that something is stuck in your eye, blurred vision and light sensitivity. If you experience these symptoms, seek urgent care.


Viral Conjunctivitis

  • Can occur with symptoms of a cold, flu, or other respiratory infection
  • Usually begins in one eye and may spread to the other eye within days
  • Discharge from the eye is usually watery rather than thick

Bacterial Conjunctivitis

  • More commonly associated with discharge (pus), which can lead to eyelids sticking together
  • Sometimes occurs with an ear infection

Allergic Conjunctivitis

  • Usually occurs in both eyes
  • Can produce intense itching, tearing, and swelling in the eyes
  • May occur with symptoms of allergies, such as an itchy nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat, or asthma

Conjunctivitis Caused by Irritants

Can produce watery eyes and mucus discharge


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