The Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) has confirmed a notable increase in cases of Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis, colloquially known as ‘Apollo,’ in the country.
This surge has been observed by optometrists and other eye care professionals practicing throughout Ghana, signifying a notable uptick in the prevalence of this eye infection.
“Apollo” is spreading very fast in most communities. However, once you have it, do not panic and seek early eye care in order to prevent its spread and possible complications,” a statement by the GOA said.
The Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) explained that “Apollo” is an inflammation of the thin, transparent layer (conjunctiva) covering the white part (sclera) of the eye, typically caused by viruses like enterovirus 70 and coxsackie virus A24.
This viral conjunctivitis spreads rapidly and presents various signs and symptoms, including excessive tearing, significant watery discharges, eye pain, conjunctival redness, eyelid swelling, gritty sensations, and sub-conjunctival hemorrhages.
While Apollo usually resolves on its own, patients may be prescribed eye drops to prevent secondary bacterial infections and mitigate severe inflammatory symptoms associated with conjunctivitis.
The GOA urged the public to seek medical attention from optometrists, ophthalmologists, or ophthalmic nurses. Severe Apollo cases can lead to complications such as superficial punctate keratitis and punctate scars on the cornea.
To prevent the spread of this eye condition, the association advised against touching or rubbing the eyes, shaking hands, and encouraged regular handwashing with soap and water, the use of hand sanitizers, and rubbing alcohol.
Infected individuals were cautioned to dispose of tissues used to clean their eyes and avoid using handkerchiefs on discharging eyes.
The GOA also recommended that infected individuals stay away from schools, workplaces, or social gatherings. School and organization heads were advised to ensure that staff and students infected with Apollo remained absent to contain its spread.
The association emphasized the importance of avoiding harmful practices by those infected with Apollo, such as using seawater, human breast milk, or urine on the eyes, applying herbal remedies, seeking eye care from unqualified practitioners, and using eye drops prescribed for others.
It clarified that Apollo cannot be contracted by simply looking at the face of an infected person; physical contact is required for transmission.