Bengal: Sudden Surge Of Conjunctivitis Cases In Kolkata, Experts Cite New Adenovirus Strain


West Bengal is witnessing a sudden spike in cases of ‘Joy Bangla’ (Conjunctivitis) caused by adenovirus, particularly in its capital city Kolkata. While more children are contracting the virus, adults are also getting infected, a report by the Times Of India cited experts as saying. This comes as cases of conjunctivitis and skin allergy are rising in relief camps in Delhi housing people affected by the flooding in the national capital, the city health minister confirmed on Monday.

As per the report, experts said that the new cases are being caused by a new strain of adenovirus, which began appearing with the onset of monsoon and is causing the number of cases to rise sharply.

“Over the past two weeks we have got many cases of conjunctivitis triggered by adenovirus, probably a new strain of the virus. Since it is highly contagious, measures like frequent washing of hands, not touching the eyes and isolation of the affected for five to six days can help check its spread,” Prabhas Prasun Giri, associate professor of Paediatrics at Kolkata’s Institute of Child Health, said, as quoted by TOI.

‘Joy Bangla’ is highly contagious and it can spread through contaminated surfaces or skin-to-skin touch. The symptoms include swelling or inflammation of the conjunctiva which is the transparent tissue layer along the inner surface of the eyelid and the membrane covering the eyeball.

Bacteria, allergies and viral infection can cause Conjunctivitis but doctors say the ongoing upsurge is caused by adenovirus.

ALSO READ | Adenovirus In West Bengal: How Does The Virus Spread? Know Its Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

Symptoms of ‘Joy Bangla’ (Conjunctivitis) Normally Heal In A Week

Symptoms of Conjunctivitis include eyes experiencing redness, itching, swelling and tearing leading to discharge and crusting around it.

“This adenoviral inflammation/haemorrhagic conjunctivitis is mostly affecting children first. They are contracting it in places like swimming pools, schools and family gatherings. We have come across cases where entire families are getting infected. But since it is self-limiting, symptoms should disappear after about a week,” TOI quoted Dibyendu Raychaudhuri, associate professor of paediatrics at MCH, Kolkata, as saying.

The report mentioned Opthalmologist Debasish Bhattacharya, chairman and MD of Disha Eye Hospitals, as informing that in most cases, the infection heals on its own in around seven days. “But in some, it can manifest with more aggressive symptoms if there is corneal involvement. There is no proper anti-viral medication for it. The affected may use any teardrop to keep the eyes moist while some might need an antibiotic drop to prevent secondary bacterial infection. But this should be done after consultation with doctors,” he added.

ALSO READ | Delhi Reports 27 Dengue Cases In A Week Amid Floods, Waterlogging. Mayor Inspects Hospitals

Cases Of Conjunctivitis, Skin Allergy At Relief Camps In Delhi

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said on Monday that cases of conjunctivitis and skin allergy are mostly being reported from relief camps where people affected by the flooding in parts of Delhi are sheltered.

According to news agency PTI, he also said all city government departments have been instructed to constantly monitor the situation.

“After flooding, there is a fear of cases of vector-borne disease like dengue, chikungunya and malaria rising. But that trend is not being seen at the moment. Cases of conjunctivitis and skin allergy are mostly being reported from relief camps,” he told reporters during his visit to a Delhi government hospital.

Considering the highly contagious nature of Conjunctivitis infection, doctors recommend that people ensure that they practise good hygiene habits such as frequent washing of hands, not touching the eyes, and isolation of the infected person for five to six days, ensuring a safe distance from them in this period.

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