How is EKC Prevented?
Because EKC is very contagious, preventative measures are very important. As EKC is known to often spread through eye doctors and clinics (ophthalmologists and optometrists), the eye care professionals are the ones who must be the most diligent in taking preventative steps. Good hand hygiene is critical, such as washing hands and use of disposable gloves. Sterilization of all eye care equipment must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, eye drops should not be shared among clinic patients such as dilation eye drops. It is paramount that individual eye drops are used whenever possible. When an EKC outbreak is reported at an eye healthcare location, which may even mean for the clinic to temporarily shut down while it is cleared of EKC. The eye exam rooms and all equipment must be disinfected from “head to toe”. All eye drops must be discarded. Door handles and all affected surfaces must be cleaned with adequate disinfectant (e.g. cavi/sani wipes or bleach). The following guidelines are critical in preventing the spread of EKC:
- Good hand hygiene
- Use of disposable gloves
- Single use eye droppers when available
- Follow manufacturer’s guidelines for sterilizing and disinfecting eye exam equipment
- Disinfect equipment with sterilizer that is stronger that 70% isopropyl alcohol
- Use medical grade disinfectant wipes like Cavi-wipes or Sani-wipes
It is generally recommended that individuals who are infected with EKC stay home until cleared by a doctor during the initial contagious period. Because there is no universally effective treatment or vaccine for EKC, it is extremely important for people with EKC to take preventative measures in order to stop the spread of infection to family, friends, and the community.
To prevent catching EKC, it is important to avoid touching your eyes and to wash your hands thoroughly if you do. Unless your hands are freshly washed, avoid touching other people. Be sure to wash any objects that come in contact with your eyes. Take steps to not share any items used on the eyes like makeup, towels, tissues, eye drops, contact lenses, glasses, and medications. If visiting an eye clinic or doctor, be sure to tell them if you have EKC, so that they can take preventative actions against spread. Since the EKC virus is typically very resistant to regular disinfectants like alcohol, medical grade disinfectants should be used to disinfect all eye related equipment.