Rash of pinkeye hits Lansing schools
Lansing school district nurses are urging students to wash their hands frequently to combat a string of pinkeye cases in Lansing schools.
Lansing Elementary and Intermediate schools nurse Kathi LaMoe said the schools have encountered about 100 cases of the highly contagious eye infection in the last 30 days.
"Hand washing is the main defense," LaMoe said. "Hygiene in this population is just paramount."
Since Oct. 4, LaMoe estimates, 96 students and two teachers have shown symptoms of pinkeye, also known as conjunctivitis.
Common symptoms include redness of the eye and inner eyelid, itchiness, stinging, tearing and swollen eyelids.
Pinkeye also can produce discharge from the eyes, which may cause the eyelids to stick together, especially during sleep.
LaMoe urged parents to keep students at home and consult their physician if their children show symptoms of the infection.
"You can't cure it with over-the-counter medications," she said.
LaMoe said most cases are treated with antibiotic eyedrops and symptoms often clear up within three to five days.
School district policy requires those with conjunctivitis not to return to school until they've been treated with antibiotic eyedrops for at least 24 hours.
LaMoe said the schools sent a letter to parents of children in kindergarten through fifth grade on Friday, Nov. 3, with information about treating and preventing pinkeye.
Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis may affect one or both eyes. LaMoe said the infection is highly contagious, so family members also should practice good hygiene by washing their hands often and avoid sharing washcloths, towels and pillowcases with one another.
Lansing Middle and High schools nurse Sue Niederhofer said parents could help keep the infection under control by reinforcing good hygiene.
"Parents should keep them home if they suspect pinkeye," she said. "They play a big role in keeping it from spreading to other kids."
Niederhofer said she knew of only six recent cases of conjunctivitis at the middle and high schools.
"We've had a few isolated cases, but nothing major. It's nothing like the poor elementary school is going through," she said.