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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 14, 2016

Public Health Alert
Possible Outbreak of Highly Contagious Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC)

A possible outbreak of Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) has been identified in the St. Thomas district. The Department of Health was notified by a St. Thomas ophthalmology practice that 30 patients have been diagnosed with a probable case of Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC). The DOH is waiting for lab results to confirm the diagnosis of these patients.

EKC is an acute eye infection that can cause corneal scaring. It is a highly contagious viral infection of the eye. Symptoms can last up to two (2) weeks or more. The symptoms of EKC can occur in one or both eyes and include:

  • A feeling that something is in the eye
  • Redness, irritation and itchiness of the eyes ("pink eye") 
  • Swelling of the eyelids 
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Clear or yellow drainage that may make the eyelids stick together 
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain

EKC is very contagious and children should stay home from school until symptoms are gone or until cleared by a doctor. It is OK to go to work; however, healthcare workers should be clear of infection by a healthcare provider prior to returning to work. 

If you have EKC: 

Avoid touching your eyes whenever possible. If you do touch your eyes, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water

Avoid touching other people unless your hands are freshly washed 

Avoid hugging or kissing with close face to face contact during an EKC outbreak 

Dispose of or carefully wash items (hot water and detergent) that touch your eyes 

Do not share eye makeup or other items used on the eyes (e.g., towels, tissues, eye drops, eye medications) 

Use a separate towel and face cloth for each member of the household

Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing 

Use disposable tissues to blow your nose, sneeze or cough 

If you visit a clinic for eye symptoms, tell them that your child’s school recently had an episode of EKC so they prevent spread of infection within the clinic.

To report suspect cases please contact Dr. Esther Ellis, 340-718-1311 ext 3841.

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