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DoH issues “pink eye” health alert; cautions parents to keep sick children at home

Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Surveillance Nurse Sharmaine Mageo has issued a health alert on pink eye as there have been 30 cases reported over the weekend. On behalf of DoH, Mrs. Mageo has urged people who have pink eye to stay home given the fact that it’s very contagious.


According to Mageo, 30 cases were seen in the Emergency Room, but she also understands that some people are nursing their pink eye at home. As reported last week, there is a Pink Eye outbreak in Apia which led to the closing of schools.


Mageo told Samoa News the public should take note of travelers, especially from Apia, and anyone who presents themselves at either the community health centers or LBJ clinics seeking treatment.


She asked that patients of pink eye not try home remedies, but to come in to see the doctor to get treatment. “Simple measures such as hand washing and general cleanliness need to be conveyed to the public as a preventative measure from catching this irritating condition.”


Pink Eye — known as conjunctivitis— is very contagious and can spread quickly. Symptoms include but are not limited to: redness; itchiness; a gritty feeling; a discharge that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eyes from opening in the morning, and tearing. These symptoms can be in one or both eyes.


When asked about the statement issued last week — that there were no cases of pink eye — Mageo said the new pink eye cases are recent and calls for preventive measures.


She repeated what DoH Medical Director Tamasoal’i John Tufa had stated earlier, that __pink eye is self-treated, it’s seasonal like the flu and it is not life threatening.


According to Tufa in an earlier interview with Samoa News, the public should practice good hygiene to control the spread of “pink eye”.


Recommendations include: washing your hands often, using a clean towel and washcloth daily, avoid touching your eyes with your fingers, and changing your pillowcase often. He also cautioned not to share towels and washcloths with others.


Tufa further noted that although pink eye symptoms may resolve in three or four days, children with viral conjunctivitis may be contagious for a week or more.


When asked if there were any cases seen at the Eye Clinic, Mageo said she’s yet to collect the data from the clinic.


Samoa News understands that some of the students with the Samoana High School choir, who recently returned from their trip to Samoa, now have pink eye.


Mageo urged parents to keep their children at home if they are sick, and said that students seen wearing glasses on the school campus must be checked for pink eye. If they have it, they must be sent home.