Sunday, October 7, 2007

New virus strain causing conjunctivitis?

A possible new strain of the virus causing sore eyes or
conjunctivitis, which has affected many Mumbaikars, has become a
matter of concern among health specialists. A few reported
complications like 'corneal involvement,' and the clinical diagnosis
indicating it to be due to 'adinovirus' [i.e., adenovirus] has made
experts fear that it could be a new strain of conjunctivitis virus.

"We are planning to carry out a detailed virological study," said S
Natrajan, chairman and medical director, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital.
Normally, the infection gets cured within one week with antibiotics
but a few cases of 'corneal involvement', in which cornea gets spots
(superficial punctate keratitis), require longer treatment, he said.
Doctors from municipal and private hospitals said most of the
patients take self-medication as the treatment is effective using a
few well-known antibiotics. "We get 5 to 7 patients in a day," they said.

"The best thing is precaution as the disease spreads through touch.
Therefore, do not touch your own eyes," Natrajan said. Mumbai had an
outbreak of conjunctivitis in 1981 when, in some cases, patients
suffered paralytic attack. The virus strain was identified by
Haffkine Institute as enterovirus-70 (No,w aren't you glad you made that table of viral families...).

Haffkine Institute Director Ranjana Deshmukh said she had not
received any referral cases so far for viral investigation this year.
"If we get samples we will definitely do the investigation." Deshmukh
said most of the patients get cured with a variety of antibiotics
available in the market which clears any superficial infection but in
some cases the redness of the eye remain for sometime. "The patient
should wear goggles to prevent getting glare of the light and also
give importance to personal hygiene," she advised.

-Raquel Kronen

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