Author – Andrew Wiese, MPH
Applied Epidemiology Fellow
Tennessee Department of Health
CDC, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE)
This week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes a description of six separate outbreaks of Adenovirus-associated epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) in four different states. These outbreaks were mainly associated with outpatient eye care.
Last August, as a new CDC/CSTE Applied Epidemiology fellow in the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), I experienced firsthand an outbreak that was similar to those described in the MMWR. We were contacted by a concerned patient who experienced severe conjunctivitis after receiving care at a local ophthalmology clinic and was aware of similarly affected patients. I was asked to help lead the investigation.
Communication with the clinic identified gaps related to cohorting of suspected cases, procedures for disinfection of equipment and surfaces, and the policy for the appropriate length of time ill staff should be kept from patient contact. Our TDH team then guided implementation of appropriate infection control practices to prevent further transmission. While our investigation identified ninety cases of EKC at the clinic, only a single case from the clinic occurred after the health department’s intervention.