Is the 'super strain' of pink eye happening in Texas a threat in SC?

Is the 'super strain' of pink eye happening in Texas a threat in SC?

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An outbreak of what's being called a "super strain" of conjunctivitis, or pink eye, as it's more commonly known, is striking residents of east Texas. But is it a problem in South Carolina?

Stories about the bacterial outbreak in Texas are spreading as well, making parents even more concerned as back-to-school dates are just around the corner.

This strain of conjunctivitis resistant to medications and is causing more irritation and redness for up to three weeks, with a doctor in Houston, TX calling it a "superbug" compared to the "garden variety" pink eye cases.

But is this strain of pink eye a problem for South Carolina? We asked SC DHEC, and while the official ruling is that individual cases cannot be tracked, clusters can - and there are no active investigations happening in the Palmetto State. Their statement says:

In South Carolina, individual cases of conjunctivitis are not reportable. However, outbreaks or clusters of any condition, including conjunctivitis or pink eye, are reportable. Currently, there are no active investigations by DHEC into outbreaks or clusters of conjunctivitis.

We also reached out to the Centers for Disease Control for comment, but nothing on a nationwide outbreak of this "super strain" has been reported by the CDC.

There are four main causes of pink eye, per the CDC:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens (like pet dander or dust mites)
  • Irritants (like smog or swimming pool chlorine) that infect or irritate the eye and eyelid lining

Pink eye is highly contagious, so heed the advice of SC DHEC on treatment and cleanliness. The symptoms are:

  • Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy or scratchy eyes
  • Discharge from the eye(s)
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes

If you get pink eye, there are things you should do so it does not spread, per the CDC:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Wash them especially well before and after cleaning, or applying eye drops or ointment to, your infected eye. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean hands. The CDC has an entire website on this called "Clean Hands Save Lives!"
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. This can worsen the condition or spread it to your other eye.
  • With clean hands, wash any discharge from around your eye or eyes several times a day using a clean, wet washcloth or fresh cotton ball. Throw away cotton balls after use, and wash used washcloths with hot water and detergent, then wash your hands again with soap and warm water.
  • Do not use the same eye drop dispenser/bottle for your infected and non-infected eyes.
  • Wash pillowcases, sheets, washcloths, and towels often in hot water and detergent; wash your hands after handling such items.
  • Stop wearing contact lenses until your eye doctor says it’s okay to start wearing them again.
  • Clean eyeglasses, being careful not to contaminate items, like hand towels, that might be shared by other people.
  • Clean, store, and replace your contact lenses as instructed by your eye doctor.
  • Do not share personal items, such as pillows, washcloths, towels, eye drops, eye or face makeup, makeup brushes, contact lenses, contact lens storage cases, or eyeglasses.
  • Do not use swimming pools.

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