The public has been advised to seek immediate eye care on suspicion of Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis popularly known as ‘Apollo’ which has broken out across the country.
The Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) which confirmed the nationwide outbreak in a statement released last Thursday, said seeking professional care was important to prevent spread and possible complications from the infection.
It noted that although “Apollo” was usually self-limiting, eye drops were recommended to prevent secondary bacterial infection and also limit severe inflammatory signs that might present with it.
“We encourage the public to seek medical care from an optometrist, ophthalmologist, or ophthalmic nurse because there are possible complications in severe Apollo cases including superficial punctate keratitis and punctate scars on the cornea,” the statement signed by the National Secretary, Dr Yaw Osei Akoto, and copied to the Ghanaian Times, cautioned.
The association warned the public against the touching or rubbing of infected eyes while encouraging regular washing of hands with soap and water, regular use of hand sanitisers and rubbing alcohol.
“Infected persons are also urged to discard tissues used in cleaning the eyes and to avoid using handkerchiefs to clean discharging eyes.
Once someone was infected with ‘Apollo,’ they should stay away from school, workplace or any social gathering to limit the spread,” the statement urged.
According to GOA, harmful practices including the use of sea water to treat infected eye, instilling human breast milk or urine in the eyes, applying herbal preparations, seeking eye care from unqualified practitioners and use of prescribed eye drops among others could further complicate the illness.
It debunked assertions that “Apollo” could be contracted by looking into the face of an infected person but was rather primarily spread by physical contact.
“Apollo” is an inflammation of the thin transparent layer (conjunctiva) covering the white part (sclera) of the eye which is caused by viruses such as enterovirus 70 and coxsackie virus A24.
The condition, which could also be termed viral conjunctivitis, spreads very fast, with some of the signs and symptoms, including profuse tearing of the eyes, serious watery discharges, pain in the eyes, conjunctival redness, lid swelling, sandy sensations and sub-conjunctival haemorrhages.