Eye Flu Consultations See 400% Rise, Doctors Sound Alarm On Secondary Bacterial Infections


Eye Flu in India: Due to persistent rainfall, a wave of conjunctivitis cases, commonly known as eye flu or pink eye, have swamped several regions such as North India, Maharashtra, Gujarat and eastern part of the country. 

A study has found that online consultations related to conjunctivitis have increased by a staggering 416 per cent in the last two weeks of July compared to the first half of the month. In-person visits have also seen a 439 per cent rise, the study by online medical consultation platform Practo has revealed.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens, and in certain instances, it can be highly contagious. Those affected may experience symptoms like red and itchy eyes, pain, and a watery or thicker discharge. 

READ | Surge In Viral Conjunctivitis Cases: Unraveling Causes, Prevention, And Management

Delhi Registers Maximum Eye Flu Consultations

In the last two weeks of July, Practo reported around 3,000 check-ups for conjunctivitis. The number, however, is without taking into account other consultations with general practitioners and ophthalmologists.

Delhi led with the maximum number of consultations at 64 per cent, followed by Bangalore at 11 per cent and Pune at 9 per cent.

“This trend highlights the convenience and effectiveness of telemedicine in managing the outbreak,” the study siad.

Adenovirus Behind Surge, Secondary Bacterial Infections Also On Rise

Experts told ABP Live that heavy showers in July, which recorded 15 per cent above normal rainfall, and flooding have created ideal conditions for the spread of conjunctivitis. Community spread has also increased, especially among school-going children.

“This is because the wet and humid environment helps bacteria and viruses to survive and spread more easily,” Dr Laxman Jessani, infectious diseases specialist, Apollo Hospital, Navi Mumbai, told ABP Live.

Dr Rahul Singh, DNB, ICO (International Council of Ophthalmology), at Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences (NIIMS) highlighted that the increase in conjunctivitis cases this year was caused by viruses like adenovirus.

Dr Singh said conjunctivitis or pink eye was very infectious and might be allergic, viral, or bacterial and varies from person to person.

“Adenoviruses are a very contagious virus that causes conjunctivitis with some respiratory issues. Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus are the bacterias that cause bacterial conjunctivitis,” he said.

Dr Jessani said around 20 to 30 per cent of conjunctivitis cases are having secondary bacterial infection, compounding the situation.

Practising Personal Hygiene Key To Recover From Eye Flu

Although viruses are the main culprit behind the outbreak, antivirals have not proven effective in controlling the disease, Dr Gopal Pillai, head of ophthalmology and vitreo retinal surgery, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, told ABP Live.

“Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infection, along with lubricant eye drops for local comfort,” he said.

Experts said practising personal hygiene remains the cornerstone of recovering from conjunctivitis.

“Do not share personal items such as towels, clothes and eye makeup. The bacteria or virus that causes it can be transferred from the eye of an infected person to the eye of another person through these items,” Dr Jessani of Apollo Hospital said.

While there is no specific treatment if the conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, Dr Singh of NIIMS said mild steroids and antihistamines might help in reducing inflammation.

“After all, one should avoid unnecessary contact of hands with the face and practise personal hygiene,” he said.

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