Kenya Urges Vigilance as Red Eye Disease Spreads Across Counties


By: Modupe Adeniyi. Freelance Health Writer

Map of West, Central and East Africa

Map of West, Central and East Africa showing the location of the coastal city of Mombasa in Kenya. Click on image to enlarge



The Red Eye disease which recently surfaced in the coastal region of Kenya and is currently impacting multiple counties throughout the country, has expanded and the Kenyan government has asked individuals to take preventive measures, such as frequent handwashing.


“Kenyans should avoid putting their hands in their eyes as the disease can spread through touch with infected people's eyes or contaminated surfaces”, said Dr. Michael Gichangi, head of the Ministry of Health's Eye Health Section.


With cases recorded in Lamu County, Malindi (Mombasa County), one case in Kisii County, and three cases found in Nairobi County, the outbreak has been concerning in the country. A Red Eye disease outbreak has also been recorded in neighbouring Tanzania.


Kenyans can read an advisory from the Health Ministry outlining the steps that must be taken to stop the disease's spread. Dr. Gichangi stated, "The disease presents with red, watery eyes." He continued by saying that healthcare professionals have been told to handle patients who seek medical assistance because of this viral illness in accordance with recognised protocols.


Related: Causes of Red Eyes in Africans.


Teachers and students alike should take time off from work or school if they are impacted and those with moderate symptoms must use a moist face towel to put a cold compress over their eyes. On the contrary, self-medication is not advised as it can be harmful when dealing with viral infections, particularly those affecting the eyes.


Studies and health records show that most Kenyans prefer to buy over-the-counter medications and self-medicate, only going to the doctor or hospital when their illness gets really bad.


Even though the red eye disease spreads quickly, long-term visual problems are uncommon. "Red Eye disease is usually self-limiting, and therefore, there is no need to cause alarm," said Gichangi.


Related: Red Eyes in African: Treatment and Prevention


He did emphasize though that the disease is a public health problem and that it is the people's responsibility to stop transmission and future spread. "Of course, if many people are infected, it will mean absence from work or school and an overload on the health system," warned the doctor.



Published: February 14, 2024

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