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Highly contagious infection: people with eye flu must stay at home
When the eye is red, watery and itchy, you quickly think of classic conjunctivitis. But behind the symptoms can also be an eye flu - an infection that is triggered by adenoviruses. Since the disease is highly contagious, those affected have to do one thing above all: stay at home.
The flu is actually a respiratory disease. But the vernacular knows another flu - on the eyes. This is triggered by adenoviruses. The viruses can spread quickly through smear infection. Therefore, hygiene measures are very important to protect yourself and others from the disease. It is best for patients to stay at home so that others do not become infected.
Pathogens are also transmitted when shaking hands
Adenoviruses are extremely resistant pathogens, which are transmitted when you shake hands. They can also be found on doorknobs, banisters or on handles. Anyone who accesses it and then rubs it on the eye can easily become infected.
"Ultimately, only a specialist can decide whether there is conjunctivitis or an eye flu," says Prof. Claus Cursiefen, director of the Cologne University Eye Clinic.
An eye flu usually begins one-sided. "In addition to the reddening, the itching and a heavy flow of tears, the lymph nodes on the ear are swollen," explains Ludger Wollring, specialist in ophthalmology and spokesman for the professional association of ophthalmologists.
After the pathogens attack one eye of the person concerned, they usually also attack the second eye.
The eyes flu affects the eyesight of those affected for a long time. "This is because, in addition to the connective tissue, the cornea also becomes inflamed and cloudy," says Cursiefen. According to him, the eye flu usually heals completely after about two to four weeks.
Illness must be reported
"The doctor must report the diagnosis of eye flu to the responsible health authority," explains Wollring. Because keratoconjunctivitis epidemica, as the eye flu is called in technical terminology, is one of the notifiable diseases.
To determine whether there are adenoviruses in the eye secretion, the doctor first makes an eye smear with a cotton swab. The cells of the eye secretion are then analyzed in the laboratory.
"However, it can take weeks to get a result," says Wollring.
There is no approved therapy to combat adenoviruses that cause eye flu. Antibiotics do not help patients. Therefore, treatment is primarily about alleviating the symptoms.
For example, anti-inflammatory drugs such as eye drops with the active ingredient cyclosporin are used. If the eyes dry out, other eye drops or eye ointments can provide a sufficient film of liquid.
"Those affected best cure the eye flu at home and, if necessary, take sick leave," says Wollring.
Comply with hygiene measures
Adenoviruses, for example, can be found on tables, fittings or PC keyboards. The same applies to towels, pillows and household appliances.
"People with the eye flu can usually infect others in the first two weeks of the disease," explains Cursiefen. The expert advises those affected to wash their hands frequently. Soap, just like skin creams and other personal care products, should only be used by the sick for themselves and not shared with others.
In addition, patients should avoid all public facilities for the duration of the illness. This applies not least to bathing establishments, saunas and sports facilities.
Sick people should only go to work or to school or kindergarten after consulting their doctor - it usually takes at least two weeks to get there. (ad, source: dpa / tmn)