Srinagar, Aug 16: The Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory is grappling with a rapid increase in cases of conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye," with a staggering count of 17,225 reported cases.
This surge has led to a significant influx of patients in the outpatient departments (OPDs) of hospitals across the area.
According to data released by the Directorate of Health Services Jammu, the Jammu division alone has recorded 11,225 cases as of August 16, and the numbers continue to rise with each passing day.
Likewise, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir has reported over 6,000 cases in the valley. The districts of Pulwama and Baramulla stand out as the most affected, reporting the highest numbers of cases.
In response to the growing concern, the Department of Ophthalmology at the Government Medical College, Srinagar has issued a comprehensive advisory aimed at curbing the spread of conjunctivitis. The advisory emphasizes the importance of taking preventive measures and maintaining stringent hygiene practices.
The advisory underscores, "Conjunctivitis spreads through direct contact with eye secretions of an infected person. Touching contaminated surfaces/objects and subsequently touching one's eyes can result in an infection."
The department also clarified common misconceptions, stating that wearing dark goggles does not offer protection against the spread of conjunctivitis. Furthermore, they clarified that the infection does not transmit by mere visual contact with an infected individual. Instead, the advisory urges individuals to frequently wash their hands with soap and water and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched.
Among the advised precautions are refraining from touching or rubbing the eyes, sharing personal items, wearing contact lenses, visiting crowded places, and using swimming pools. The advisory strongly recommends seeking consultation with an ophthalmologist if symptoms escalate, including severe eye pain, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and accompanying throat pain and fever. If symptoms persist or worsen beyond 24 hours, professional medical assistance is strongly advised.
Dr. Mir Mushtaq, spokesperson for the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir, revealed that the health department has undertaken a series of measures to stem the spread of conjunctivitis. With rural and tertiary care hospital OPDs bustling with pink eye cases, the health authorities have initiated a robust surveillance system to monitor case trends and promptly identify potential outbreaks.
"We have established a vigorous surveillance system to track conjunctivitis cases, spot trends, and detect outbreaks in their early stages. Healthcare providers have been urged to promptly report cases to the health department for precise data collection," Dr. Mushtaq explained.
To enhance public awareness, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir has launched campaigns aimed at educating the populace about conjunctivitis—its symptoms, modes of transmission, and preventive measures. Additionally, contact tracing efforts are underway, aimed at identifying and notifying individuals who have been in close proximity to confirmed cases. This proactive approach aims to prevent further transmission and facilitate the early detection of new cases.