The Pan America Health Organization (PAHO) has reported outbreaks of conjunctivitis in five countries of the Americas and is urging member states to increase surveillance to prevent the spread of the disease.
Conjunctivitis is more commonly referred to as “red eye” in St Lucia.
According to PAHO outbreaks have been reported in the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Brazil, Guadeloupe, and Martinique.
The Dominican Republic appears to be particularly hard hit, recording a total of 66,626 cases of conjunctivitis through the end of May, representing a 62 percent increase compared with the same period of 2016.
Closer to home, in Guadeloupe, officials are reporting 500 to 600 cases weekly in recent weeks.
An increase in cases of conjunctivitis above the epidemic threshold level has been observed since the end of 2016.
PAHO says the number of cases of conjunctivitis in Martinique has increased significantly. St Lucia’s French neighbor is now reporting 250 cases weekly.
A total of 240 cases were reported in the Bahamas since May 2017.
In light of the increased transmission of conjunctivitis the Pan American Health Organization is calling on Member states, like St Lucia to strengthen surveillance and implement control measures to prevent the spread of the disease.