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St Jude Hospital is reporting a significant increase in the number of cases of conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to in St Lucia as “red eye”, in the south of the island over the past two weeks.

St Jude Hospital has recorded 47 cases of “red eye” so far for the month of July. The hospital registered just two cases of red eye for all of June.

This spike in new cases comes after the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological update last month warning of outbreaks of conjunctivitis in five countries and territories of the Americas, including Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. The most common symptoms of red eye or conjunctivitis include redness, watery or mucus discharge, and a burning, sandy, or gritty feeling in one eye.

Medical officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Sharon Belmar George has issued a caution to the public on how to avoid contracting the disease.

Infected persons are also being urged not to attend public activities as conjunctivitis is highly contagious.

The caution comes at the height of the Carnival season.

Anyone experiencing the symptoms of conjunctivitis should immediately seek medical attention.

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