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Red Eye Disease Outbreak Confirmed In Kampala Schools

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The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has issued a public advisory urging individuals to adopt preventive measures, such as frequent handwashing, to curb the spread of the highly contagious red eye disease. This follows an outbreak reported in several schools within Kampala.

In a letter dated March 13, 2024, addressed to all heads of government and private educational institutions, Charles Bonnie Maginot, informed them of an outbreak of conjunctivitis, commonly known as red eye disease, in Kampala, as notified by the Director of Public Health.

Maginot stated, “We have received reports of cases in some schools and educational institutions. As an immediate measure, our health team advises you to reinstate the existing infection prevention protocols in schools. These include regular handwashing with soap and water, avoiding touching or rubbing eyes, refraining from handshakes and close contact, and screening visitors to the schools and institutions.”

He urged all schools and institutions to report any cases to the nearest health facility or to reach out to the KCCA via their toll-free line 0800299000.

Maginot added, “The Director of Public Health and Environment will soon provide detailed guidelines on managing this outbreak.” His letter was also copied to the KCCA executive director, her deputy, and the Director of Public Health and Environment.

Dr Abel Kafeero explained that conjunctivitis can be triggered by various factors, with bacterial infection being the most common cause. He warned that the disease spreads quickly, often infecting children who subsequently transmit it to adults.

He added, “Direct contact with an infected individual or sharing personal belongings with them can facilitate the spread of the disease.” He described the symptoms as red, watery eyes.

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Dr Kafeero revealed that the treatment varies depending on the cause and severity of the disease. He said, “For minor cases, we typically prescribe topical antibiotics and pain relievers. In severe cases, we administer systemic antibiotics intravenously. We may use broad-spectrum antibiotics or specific antibiotics once the exact bacterial cause is identified.”

He cautioned that delayed treatment could lead to severe consequences, including blindness.

Earlier this year, in February, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania also reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis. Rwanda advised infected individuals to refrain from swimming in public pools and sharing sanitation materials.

The sharing of bedding among family members infected with the disease was also discouraged.

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