"pink eye," epidemic keratoconjunctivitis

This form of conjunctivitis is the fabled "pink eye" everyone fears, and for some good reason. It is caused by adenovirus type 8. It is transmitted by direct contact from person to person and is highly contagious. Initially, there is a sensation of a something beneath the eyelids with a lot of itching and burning. Soon the patient complains that light bothers his eyes. The preauricular lymph node (just in front of the ear) becomes palpably enlarged - about the only time this node is ever evident.

There may be some blurring of vision, which can be (rarely) permanent (less common in children than in adults). Children may have associated upper respiratory infection with a sore, red throat that is negative for strep. This is called pharyngoconjunctival fever. No specific treatment is available. Emphasis must be placed on prevention of spread of the disease, so your child may be quarantined from school for up to a week or two until the symptoms subside. Strict handwashing at home is the best prevention.

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