18% of American Samoan Kids Battling Pink Eye

Massive outbreak of conjunctivitis keeps schools closed
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2014 9:48 AM CDT
18% of American Samoan Kids Battling Pink Eye
A boy with conjunctivitis.   (Shutterstock)

American Samoa is in the midst of a massive outbreak ... of pink eye, the AP reports. Roughly 2,300 of the islands' 13,000 schoolkids have it, along with 130 teachers—some 30% of those in that profession there. And most schools have shut their doors. All public schools were expected to be open yesterday after closing Friday, but so far just four have reopened; all schools on the territory's main island are closed until at least next week. Though uncomfortable, pink eye, or conjunctivitis—caused by viruses, bacteria, or allergens—is not considered dangerous, but officials are advising workers to stay home and parents to keep their children away from those that have it.

The virus isn't just wreaking havoc in schools. It has been affecting the courts, too, with hearings postponed as court security screens visitors for the condition. Even Hawaiian Airlines—the only airline that connects the territory to the US—had to turn away "a handful" of passengers from flights after they showed symptoms. Notes a rep for the airline, "All hard surfaces of our plane are cleaned with an antiviral solution and pillows and blankets are bagged and disposed of ... Our cleaners have been given additional clothing for protection." (More pink eye stories.)

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