Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC)
Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) is a common and highly contagious acute infection of the eye caused by adenovirus. Typically symptoms manifest as pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, edema of the eye lid, and pseudomembrane (1). Complications and permanent damage may occur. There is no universally effective cure, vaccine, or treatment available; topical corticosteroids may provide relief (7). Research has reported that corticosteroid treatment may delay the shedding of the cells from the ocular surface by enhancing the adenovirus duplication, not allowing the adenovirus to expire on its own (7). EKC is extremely contagious and often results in cases of epidemics or “runs” in eye care clinics. There is available laboratory testing, as well as rapid in-office testing to identify EKC. Correctly testing and identify EKC is extremely crucial in order to prevent further breakouts. For the majority of nosocomial EKC cases, individuals often contract the virus through routine eye care examinations, by use of contaminated equipment such as tonometers (7,8). With an average incubation period lasting from 7-14 days, affected individuals often do not make the association of contracting the virus with their recent eye examination (6, 7). The virus is known to last on surfaces, such a slit lamps, for an average of 4-6 weeks (7,8,10,11). There is greater severity for the prognosis of EKC than previously thought. Research reveals lasting damage caused by EKC such as permanent corneal damage and the acute symptoms spanning the duration of years. The underplayed original prognosis of EKC requires an updated review and even a possible new approach to handling the virus.