What Causes EKC?
Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) is caused by a virus called the adenovirus. Adenoviruses infect the outer layers surrounding the eye. EKC is transmitted through infected bodily fluids (tears or mucous secretions) that often enter an individual directly through direct contact with the eyes. EKC may be contagious just before full blown symptoms appear, and often remains contagious during the initial symptomatic period. This large time frame of being contagious allows the EKC virus to spread rapidly. Although community acquired EKC is known, one of the most common way of EKC spreading is through routine eye examination and eye doctors’ offices.
Even at room temperature, the EKC virus is able to live on most surfaces for weeks. EKC may still remain on a surface even after the use of 70% isopropyl alcohol which is one of the most common disinfectants utilized in eye care provider clinics. Alcohol alone is inadequate and may in fact give a false sense of cleanliness.