Confirmed cases of pink eye in eThekwini: good personal hygiene is key; so is seeking medical treatment, says KZN Health MEC, Ms Nomagugu Simelane

02 March 2024

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane is urging the public to avoid Pink Eye infection by practicing good personal hygiene, such as regular hand-washing, and avoiding the sharing of face cloths, eye cosmetics, or pillows.

At least 161 cases of Pink Eye have been confirmed in various parts of EThekwini District, since the 26th of February 2024.

The cases were recorded at Clairwood Hospital (55), KZN Childrens Hospital (50); Cato Manor Community Health Centre (39); McCord Hospital (15) and Halley Stott Clinic (2).

MEC Simelane says a few basic hygienic practices can help contain the spread of Pink Eye

“Now that we have confirmed cases of Pink Eye in EThekwini District, we are urging those who have its symptoms not to sit at home, but to visit their nearest clinic. During the era of COVID-19, we had developed a number of habits that promoted good hygiene, such as regular hand washing with soap and water or sanitizer. Those are some of the things we need to re-orient ourselves with.”

Some facts about pink eye

  • Pink eye is an inflammation of the transparent membrane that lines the eyelid and eyeball. This membrane is called the conjunctiva.
  • When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become swollen and irritated, they’re more visible. This is what causes the whites of the eyes to appear reddish or pink. Pink eye also is called conjunctivitis.
  • Pink eye is most often caused by a viral infection, also known as viral conjunctivitis, which is highly contagious.
  • It also can be caused by a bacterial infection, an allergic reaction or – in babies – an incompletely opened tear duct.
  • Though pink eye can be irritating, it rarely affects your vision.
  • Treatment can help ease the discomfort of pink eye.
  • Because pink eye can be contagious, getting an early diagnosis and taking certain precautions can help limit its spread.

Causes of pink eye

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens.
  • A chemical splash in the eye
  • A foreign object in the eye
  • In newborns, a blocked tear duct
  • Contact lens use
  • Fungi
  • Certain diseases

Prevention of pink eye

  • Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Wash your hands often
  • Use a clean towel and washcloth daily
  • Dont share towels or washcloths.
  • Change your pillowcases often.
  • Throw away old eye cosmetics, such as mascara.
  • Don’t share eye cosmetics or personal eye care items.
  • Schools should allow infected children to remain in school once any therapy is implemented, except when viral or bacterial conjunctivitis is accompanied by systemic signs of illness.
  • Infected students should refrain from attending school if they are unable to avoid close contact with other students.

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health