West Bengal is currently experiencing a sudden surge in cases of ‘Joy Bangla’ (Conjunctivitis) caused by a new strain of adenovirus.
This is particularly in its capital city, Kolkata, and also in Siliguri. Experts reported that not only children but also adults are getting infected. Similarly, in Delhi, where relief camps are housing people affected by flooding, cases of conjunctivitis and skin allergy are on the rise, as confirmed by the city health minister.
The new strain of adenovirus is believed to be responsible for the increased number of cases, coinciding with the onset of the monsoon season. Dr. Prabhas Prasun Giri, an associate professor of Pediatrics at Kolkata’s Institute of Child Health, advised taking precautionary measures such as frequent handwashing, avoiding touching the eyes and isolating affected individuals for about five to six days to prevent further spread.
‘Joy Bangla’ is highly contagious and can be transmitted through contaminated surfaces or direct skin-to-skin contact. Symptoms of the infection include swelling and inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue layer covering the inner surface of the eyelid and the eyeball’s membrane.
While conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, allergies, or viral infections, the ongoing increase in cases is primarily attributed to the adenovirus.
Symptoms of ‘Joy Bangla’ (Conjunctivitis) generally resolve within a week, characterized by redness, itching, swelling, tearing, and crusting around the eyes. Most cases of this adenoviral inflammation and hemorrhagic conjunctivitis affect children initially, contracted at places like swimming pools, schools, and family gatherings. Fortunately, the infection is self-limiting, and symptoms typically disappear within about a week.
Ophthalmologist Debasish Bhattacharya, chairman, and MD of Disha Eye Hospitals mentioned that in some cases, the infection may manifest with more severe symptoms if the cornea is involved. While there is no specific antiviral medication for it, using tear drops to keep the eyes moist and, in some cases, antibiotic drops to prevent secondary bacterial infection might be necessary. However, such measures should be taken after consulting with doctors.
In Delhi, the health minister reported that cases of conjunctivitis and skin allergy are primarily being observed in relief camps where flood-affected people are sheltered. There is currently no significant increase in vector-borne diseases like dengue, chikungunya, or malaria.
Considering the highly contagious nature of conjunctivitis, medical professionals emphasize the importance of maintaining good hygiene habits, including regular handwashing, avoiding touching the eyes and isolating infected individuals for around five to six days. Maintaining a safe distance from them during this period is crucial in preventing further spread of the infection.