Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis (AHC), commonly referred to as “Apollo” in Ghana and other regions, is a highly contagious viral eye infection that primarily affects the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent tissue covering the white part of the eye and the inner eyelids.
The Ghana Optometric Association has noticed a rise in AHC cases and offers guidance on how to control its spread. Here are key insights from the association on AHC and its prevention and management:
AHC is mainly caused by two viruses: enterovirus 70 and coxsackievirus A24, both from the Picornaviridae family. These highly contagious viruses spread through direct contact with infected eye secretions, contaminated objects, or respiratory droplets.
AHC symptoms include sudden eye redness, eye pain, a gritty sensation, light sensitivity (photophobia), excessive tearing, and occasionally, small subconjunctival hemorrhages (bloody eyes). The severity of symptoms can vary.
- Hygiene: Maintain good hand hygiene, frequently washing hands with soap and water, particularly after potential exposure.
- Avoid Eye Contact: Refrain from touching your eyes with unwashed hands to prevent virus transfer to the conjunctiva.
- Limit Close Contact: Minimize close contact with individuals displaying AHC symptoms or eye infections.
- Disinfection: Regularly clean and disinfect items that could come into contact with the virus, such as eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye drop containers.
- Isolation: Those with AHC should isolate themselves to prevent further transmission.
- Tissue Use: Use tissues rather than handkerchiefs to clean eye secretions, disposing of them promptly.
- Seek Medical Care: If AHC is suspected or symptoms occur, seek prompt medical attention from an eye care professional or healthcare provider.
- Rest: Get ample rest to aid recovery.
- Hydration: Stay well-hydrated by drinking fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Prescribed Medications: In some instances, antiviral medications or eye drops may be prescribed to manage the infection and relieve symptoms.
- Contact Lenses: If you wear contact lenses, discontinue use until the infection clears, and seek guidance from a healthcare professional before resuming wear.
Raising awareness about AHC and adhering to preventive measures is crucial, particularly in densely populated areas. If you or someone you know exhibits AHC symptoms, seek medical attention promptly to ensure proper care and prevent further virus transmission.