Health Ministry Warns of Spreading Pink Eye

The Ministry of Health on Thursday warned of an increased number of conjunctivitis cases, a highly contagious eye disease also referred to as pink eye.

“Health centers, clinics and hospitals in the country are currently seeing an increase in the number of cases of conjunctivitis,” the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health said in a joint statement.

The National Program for Eye Health said that it had recorded about 4,100 cases nationwide.

“Through the information we got from the Eye Unit in Phnom Penh and [provincial hospitals] there are about 4,089 patients [within the] last three weeks,” a spokesperson for the organization, who did not give their name, said in an email.

The spokesperson added that the number was most likely much higher since most people suffering from pink eye would not seek treatment at hospitals.

Sok Barang, vice president of the Cambodian Ophthalmological Society, said that provincial referral hospitals usually only receive one or two cases of pink eye per month.

“Right now we see much more than usual, and most patients don’t come to see a doctor, they get eye drops from a pharmacy and stay at home,” Dr. Barang said.

Sonny Krishnan, spokesman for the WHO, said that although the eye disease was not a public health hazard and usually heals within a few days, people staying in crowded areas should take precautions.

“Factors are unhygienic conditions and contaminated water and people not washing their hands. Infected people pass the infection on to other people, especially if they share the same bed and pillow, or when they touch a person, like shaking hands,” he said.

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