Conjunctivitis surge: 27% households surveyed in Delhi NCR have someone who currently has a pink eye or had it in last one week; 17% households in Maharashtra and Karnataka have it
Aug 1, 2023, New Delhi: Cases of Conjunctivitis, also known as eye flu or pink eye, are being reported in large numbers across the country, especially from Delhi NCR and increasingly from Maharashtra and Karnataka as well. Easily transmitted by contaminated fingers or objects, conjunctivitis is somewhat common during the monsoon season but the incidences this year in some parts of India are much higher. Delhi NCR, parts of Maharashtra like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur are among areas where many cases have been reported with several seeking medical help. In several other states like Karnataka health advisories have been issued about the increasing number of infections and risk of its further spread of eye flu.
There are mainly three forms of "pink eye": bacterial, viral and allergic. The viral kind is the main culprit, especially among adults, followed by the bacterial kind. Dampness and humidity provide the perfect condition for the growth and spread of both bacterial and viral kind of conjunctivitis. Generally, children are at greater risk as they tend to get it first from school and spread it among adults at home. Conjunctivitis risk is also increased when people come into close contact with contaminated water or surfaces. Bacterial conjunctivitis causes sticky eye pus. In contrast, allergic conjunctivitis, a form of pink eye, is brought on by an allergic reaction to pollen, animals, cigarette smoke, pool chlorine, automobile fumes, or other environmental factors. There is no special treatment for conjunctivitis. It generally lasts for 3-5 days during which it is essential to maintain excellent hygiene, refrain from touching the eyes with unclean hands, and seek medical assistance if required. To stop the spread of the disease, doctors advise patients not to share personal belongings like towels or eye makeup.
With over hundred posts and comments received from citizens across these three states, LocalCircles decided to conduct a national survey which received over 14,000 responses from residents across 3 states of Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka. 66% of the respondents were men while 34% were women.
27% residents of Delhi NCR surveyed indicated that one or more individuals in their household have or had pink eye/ conjunctivitis in the last one week
Starting with Delhi NCR, where increasing number of people are reported to be seeking medical help at hospitals and clinics for severe cases of conjunctivitis following waterlogging and flooding in several parts of the cities in the NCR, LocalCircles asked the residents “How many individuals do you have in your household in Delhi NCR who currently have (or had this week) the pink eye or the conjunctivitis condition?” Out of 7,498 Delhi NCR residents who responded, 27% indicated that one or more individuals in their household have or had pink eye/ conjunctivitis in the last one week. Data shows that while 13% of households surveyed in Delhi NCR have/had 2-3 individuals affected by conjunctivitis 14% of the respondents indicated that one individual in their household was affected in the last seven days. Given the population of Delhi NCR and the fact that 27% households have one or more infected indicates that potentially 7-8 million people have recently suffered from eye flu or are experiencing it right now.
17% of households surveyed in Maharashtra indicated that one or more individuals had conjunctivitis in the last week or presently having it
Similarly, as many parts of Maharashtra grapple with flooding, landslides and water logging due to heavy showers, the number of cases must be much larger than those who have visited a health centre/ clinic or hospital to seek medical advice. The survey sought to know from Maharashtra residents “how many individuals do you have in your household who currently have / had the pink eye or conjunctivitis condition” in this week?” This query received 4,240 responses from Maharashtra residents with 17% of households surveyed indicating that one or more individuals were having or had conjunctivitis in the last week. Data shows that while 7% of households have/ had 4 or more individuals affected by pink eye or conjunctivitis; 3% households surveyed have/ had 2-3 individuals and 7% of respondents indicated that one individual has/ had pink eye in the last one week. However, 83% of households indicated that no one in the family had been affected.
8% respondents from Karnataka indicated that 4 or more household members have or had conjunctivitis condition and 9% indicated one person in the household
The survey next sought to know the situation in Karnataka, parts of which are expected to have heavy rains over the next few days according to the Met Department. Karnataka is known to have a very active health department which has already issued advisories regarding the need to be cautious particularly in the case of school going children. LocalCircles asked residents of Karnataka about “how many individuals do you have in your households who have or had this week the pink eye or the conjunctivitis condition?” Over 3,000 residents of Karnataka responded to the query with 8% indicating that 4 or more household members have or had pink eye or conjunctivitis condition and 9% indicating one person in the household. The remaining 83% of respondents denied anyone in their household had the eye flu/ viral or conjunctivitis condition.
In summary, while pink eye or conjunctivitis in all its forms can be painful and contagious if proper hygienic practices are not followed, the increase in the number of cases is worrying. With a whopping 27% or more than one-fourth of Delhi NCR households surveyed indicating that one or more members has had conjunctivitis in last one week or currently having it shows that it is almost similar to the Omicron wave of early 2022. The survey also finds that in Maharashtra and Karnataka so far 17% of households have indicated a similar situation with one or more family members who had it in the past week or having it now. It is also likely that states of Gujarat, Telangana and others may face a similar surge in the weeks to come. Combined with vector borne and water borne diseases that affect a large number of individuals during the monsoon season, it would be helpful for citizens if the health departments and the civic authorities maintain the vigil to ensure no further spread of not just conjunctivitis but also other monsoon related diseases spread. LocalCircles will be sharing this survey report with concerned state chief secretaries for timely actions and awareness creation.
Over 14,000 responses were received from residents across 3 states of Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka. 66% of the respondents were men while 34% were women. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.