Transmission rates of conjunctivitis (pink eye) are on the decline overall in Belize. However, rates remain relatively high in the southern half of the country. Health officials are urging people traveling to the south for Garifuna Settlement Day - a national holiday celebrated on November 19, particularly in the southern town of Dangriga - to take precautions.
A total of 16,000 cases have been reported nationwide since the beginning of the year (as of November), in what government officials have called the worst such outbreak since 2005.
Conjunctivitis is an eye infection where the thin membrane that covers the white of the eye and the interior of the eye lids - the conjunctiva - becomes inflamed. Symptoms include watery eyes, discharge, discomfort, sensitively to light, subconjunctival hemorrhaging, and itchiness. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be caused by bacterial or viral infections; only the bacterial version is treatable.
Numerous other Caribbean and Central American countries have also reported outbreaks of the disease since late 2016
Individuals in Belize are advised to minimize direct contact with others (e.g. avoid handshakes) and to wash hands frequently.
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