Project Title

Viral Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis Outbreak in Rural Belize

Authors' Affiliations

Rebecca Neighbor, Medical Student, East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City, TN. Claire Gleadhill, Medical Student, East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City, TN. Kacie Denton, Medical Student, East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Clinch Mtn

Start Date

4-12-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:30 PM

Poster Number

166

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Family Medicine

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Joesph Florence

Type

Poster: Competitive

Classification of First Author

Medical Student

Project's Category

Viral Infections, Health of Underserved Populations, Rural Health

Project's Category

Arts and Humanities

Abstract Text

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES:

The objectives of this project are to review current literature regarding conjunctivitis including the pathogens that cause conjunctivitis, how to diagnose and differentiate between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, and the different modalities to treating the disease with limited resources in rural communities. Then examine an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic conjunctivitis in rural Belize in October of 2017. This includes examining data collected by ETSU Family Medicine Department during health outreach clinics regarding diagnosis made, treatment provided, and comparing this information to a survey collected about social determinants of health. Finally, discuss the importance of disseminating public health education regarding how to limit the spread of contagious infections to a rural population with limited health literacy and access to resources.

METHODS:

In October of 2017 East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Quillen College of Medicine medical students, primary care physicians, and residents traveled to rural Belize to provide free primary care. The clinics consisted of seeing patients at both an established clinic in Roaring Creek, Belize and at remote health clinics in even more rural locations. Many of the patients who presented to the clinics had similar complaints of itchy, red, and productive eyes. Quantitative data was recorded from patient charts regarding their presenting symptoms, diagnosis, and the treatment. The data was organized utilizing microsoft excel and evaluated using SPSS and measures of central tendency. Qualitative data was also collected from interactions with patients and newspaper articles published in Belize about the conjunctivitis outbreak.

RESULTS:

The results showed that a total of 431 patients received care and 52% of them were diagnosed with conjunctivitis. 46.9% of the patients were determined to have viral conjunctivitis, while 2.8% of them had bacterial conjunctivitis. It was discovered that many patients utilized one reusable cloth to wipe their children's eyes repeatedly thus spreading the disease across and throughout the rural communities. It was found through careful conversations with patients that they were putting urine and breast milk into their eyes in hopes that it would help their pink eye. The Belize Ministry of Health Reported that there were 5,343 cases of pink eye countrywide, with a viral strain being more predominant than bacterial.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, extremely contagious diseases like conjunctivitis are dangerous in rural developing countries because of lack of education about hygiene and limited resources necessary to contain such diseases. While medication is not effective for viral conjunctivitis, it can have devastating consequences (e.g blindness) if a superinfection is not caught early in the course. Education can be the best medicine especially in cases of viral diseases. Patients were also provided with resources to wash their hands often, sterilized water to flush their eyes, and single use towels. A lesson on conjunctivitis, its complications, and how to prevent the spread of the disease was aired on public television. This reports provides examples of both practice creative ways to spread health literacy in rural populations with limited access to resources.

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 2:30 PM

Viral Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis Outbreak in Rural Belize

Clinch Mtn

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES:

The objectives of this project are to review current literature regarding conjunctivitis including the pathogens that cause conjunctivitis, how to diagnose and differentiate between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis, and the different modalities to treating the disease with limited resources in rural communities. Then examine an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic conjunctivitis in rural Belize in October of 2017. This includes examining data collected by ETSU Family Medicine Department during health outreach clinics regarding diagnosis made, treatment provided, and comparing this information to a survey collected about social determinants of health. Finally, discuss the importance of disseminating public health education regarding how to limit the spread of contagious infections to a rural population with limited health literacy and access to resources.

METHODS:

In October of 2017 East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Quillen College of Medicine medical students, primary care physicians, and residents traveled to rural Belize to provide free primary care. The clinics consisted of seeing patients at both an established clinic in Roaring Creek, Belize and at remote health clinics in even more rural locations. Many of the patients who presented to the clinics had similar complaints of itchy, red, and productive eyes. Quantitative data was recorded from patient charts regarding their presenting symptoms, diagnosis, and the treatment. The data was organized utilizing microsoft excel and evaluated using SPSS and measures of central tendency. Qualitative data was also collected from interactions with patients and newspaper articles published in Belize about the conjunctivitis outbreak.

RESULTS:

The results showed that a total of 431 patients received care and 52% of them were diagnosed with conjunctivitis. 46.9% of the patients were determined to have viral conjunctivitis, while 2.8% of them had bacterial conjunctivitis. It was discovered that many patients utilized one reusable cloth to wipe their children's eyes repeatedly thus spreading the disease across and throughout the rural communities. It was found through careful conversations with patients that they were putting urine and breast milk into their eyes in hopes that it would help their pink eye. The Belize Ministry of Health Reported that there were 5,343 cases of pink eye countrywide, with a viral strain being more predominant than bacterial.

CONCLUSION:

In conclusion, extremely contagious diseases like conjunctivitis are dangerous in rural developing countries because of lack of education about hygiene and limited resources necessary to contain such diseases. While medication is not effective for viral conjunctivitis, it can have devastating consequences (e.g blindness) if a superinfection is not caught early in the course. Education can be the best medicine especially in cases of viral diseases. Patients were also provided with resources to wash their hands often, sterilized water to flush their eyes, and single use towels. A lesson on conjunctivitis, its complications, and how to prevent the spread of the disease was aired on public television. This reports provides examples of both practice creative ways to spread health literacy in rural populations with limited access to resources.