The ophthalmology departments of hospitals in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, are congested with people suffering from conjunctivitis, an outbreak of which has been afflicting the city for more than 10 days.
Conjunctivitis is an infectious disease commonly known as "pink eye" because it causes eyes to turn pink or red.
At the ophthalmology department of the Baiyun District People's Hospital in Guangzhou, more than 60 patients infected with conjunctivitis were treated yesterday, according to the director of the department, who only identified herself as Yang.
"I have never seen so many people being infected with conjunctivitis before," said an emergency room nurse at the hospital.
Yang said the disease is usually rampant in the period between summer and autumn and recent humid weather in the city has helped the disease spread because such weather is favorable for the virus that causes the disease.
In addition, those who go swimming have more of a chance of getting infected, she said.
She suggested that people keep their hands clean and do not touch their eyes often.
People should go to the doctor and take effective eye drops as soon as possible once they get conjunctivitis, she said.
Yang said her department has few eye drops left because there are too many infected people buying the medicine.
"As far as I know, such a serious outbreak of conjunctivitis occurred only once before, in 1995, in Guangzhou," she said.
Guangzhou people are not the only victims of pink eye. The disease has been spreading in Haikou, South China's Hainan Province, for nearly one month, according to Xinhua News Agency.
A Xinhua report on Saturday said that more than 7,000 people are infected in Haikou and the disease is spreading out of Haikou to other cities and counties in the province. The report said the reason for the fast spread of the disease in the province was that many infected people were not treated in time.
(China Daily August 27, 2002)