The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has recorded about 937 cases of conjunctivitis, commonly known as “Apollo,” from 19 health facilities in four regions between June and the second week of September this year.
The cases were recorded in the Greater Accra, Upper East, Central and the Oti regions.
Head of the GHS Eyecare Unit, Dr Hornametor Afake, told the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday that the service had received reports of a rise in cases of conjunctivitis, also known as Apollo in Ghana, since June.
He said the current cases of conjunctivitis brought to health facilities were Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis (ACH).
Acute Hemorrhagic is a severe form of viral pink eye that could cause eyelid swelling, eye discharge, and bleeding.
He stated that 680 instances of Apollo have currently been recorded in nine health facilities in the Greater Accra Region.
In the Oti Region, 136 cases have been recorded in eight health facilities, 99 cases in the Saltpond Municipal Hospital in the Central Region and 22 cases in the Upper East Regional Hospital.
“It is interesting to know that in Manna Mission Hospital in Accra, 22 cases of Apollo were recorded out of the total number of 45 OPD cases in September alone,” he said.
Dr Afake said Apollo was a viral infection, highly contagious and usually experienced between July and September.
“The GHS would conduct laboratory investigations to confirm what type of virus is responsible for the current Apollo outbreak in Ghana,” he said.
The Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis commonly known as Apollo in Ghana was first detected in 1969.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the eyeball and inner eyelid. This inflammation is usually due to an infection, allergen, or toxin.
Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and is usually transmitted through direct contact with an infected person through handshake and hand-to-eye contact.
It can also be caught by using a virus-infected item, such as a handkerchief, towel, or makeup tools.
Symptoms include severe swelling and visible bleeding in and around your eye.
The last Apollo outbreak in Ghana occurred in 2013, with only a few cases reported each year after then.
“You cannot contract Apollo by looking into the eye of an infected person,” Dr Afake said.
He advised the public to practise good hand hygiene by washing their hands often with soap and running water.
Dr Afake stated that Apollo is self-limiting and usually heals by itself within five to 10 days, but becomes harmful when people develop a bacterial infection as a result of using an unapproved substance in the eye.
“Complications occur when people use sea water, which is already polluted to treat the eye, some use breast milk which is also not beneficial, some use urine and herbal preparation which could lead to a cornea skull, this is dangerous and can destroy the eye,” he said.
The GHS’s Head of the Eyecare Unit encouraged anyone infected with the disease to seek treatment at a health centre and to stop sharing eye drops. —GNA