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, 35 (3), 169-74

Conjunctivitis Outbreak Among Divers

  • PMID: 18619112

Conjunctivitis Outbreak Among Divers

D J Olsson et al. Undersea Hyperb Med.


In March 2006, an outbreak of conjunctivitis that occurred over a six day period among twenty-nine individuals who partook in recreational scuba diving trips on two boats off Vitu Levu Island, Fiji. We investigated the likelihood that a communal container used to store diving masks facilitated the spread of conjunctivitis among individuals. The diagnosis of conjunctivitis was based on clinical assessment by a physician. Transmission of conjunctivitis from person to person was documented with eventual identification of the index case, the dive master, a Fijian resident. Topical antibiotics were dispensed accordingly and detergent and bleach were used as mask cleaning agents in an effort to control the outbreak. Follow up surveys were mailed to all twenty-nine participants. Ultimately, fourteen cases of conjunctivitis were documented (46.7%). Eleven cases were verified during the six days in Fiji, two upon arrival back in the U.S., and one case of familial transmission in the U.S. All but two cases resolved within one week. Unknown to these divers was a coincidental, generalized outbreak of acute haemorrhagic conjunctivitis among the Fijian Residents. The communal container used to store diving masks was the likely vector for the spread of infectious conjunctivitis, the first such documented outbreak involving communal diving equipment.

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