Cases of acute conjunctivitis, commonly known as ‘pink eye’, a highly contagious eye infection, has been steadily rising in Meghalaya, prompting medical authorities to issue advisory to the public.

Health officials said so far 1,324 cases of conjunctivitis have been reported in the state with East Khasi Hills district, which includes Meghalaya capital Shillong, reporting 672 conjunctivitis cases district “in the past couple of months”.

In July, 552 cases were reported, while 120 cases were reported this month alone, as per information received from the state directorate of health services.

Among the conjunctivitis cases reported since July till August 21 , a total of 333 were from West Garo Hills district, 155 from West Jaintia Hills district, 73 from Ri-Bhoi district, 47 from West Khasi Hills district, 36 from South Garo Hills district and eight cases from East Garo Hills district.

Several schools are temporarily closing in order to prevent the spread of infection in Ri-Bhoi district.

East Khasi Hills district medical health officer, Dr Adreena Lyngdoh said, health advisories have been issued to educational institutions to take certain precautions within their institutions.

“Conjunctivitis, also known as the eye flu or pink eye, is highly contagious and spreads easily from one person to the other through direct contact with the eye, secretion of the infected person or indirectly through contaminated objects,” she said.

Symptoms include redness and swelling of the eyes, watery discharge, pain or gritty sensation in the eyes, itching, difficulty in tolerating light and eyelids may stick together in the morning.

“If the symptoms of the infection persist for over 5 days or there is decrease in vision, severe pain, intolerance to light and presence of thick discharge, then one should consult a doctor,” Lyngdoh said.

Urging the public to maintain health hygiene by frequently washing their hands with soap to prevent the spread of the diseases, the health official said: “We urge that personal items should not be shared, avoid touching the eyes, not to wear contact lenses and if infected avoid school, college, office, workplaces until the infection subsides.”

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