No evidence of pink eye superbug in Memphis, optometrist says

No evidence of pink eye superbug in Memphis, optometrist says

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis doctors spoke up to calm fears over reports of a pink eye superbug.

Recent reports out of Houston, Texas, cited two doctors who said a new superbug was to blame for an uptick in pink eye cases. However, experts at Southern College of Optometry said those claims were premature and possibly misleading.

"I think that might be a little bit premature and maybe a little misleading," Dr. Chris Lievens said. "The truth is that a lot of viruses are already superbugs and very difficult to treat, and we really don't have a whole lot of treatments specifically for them--for many viruses that affect us."

Pink eye is a colloquial term for conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, bacteria, or a virus.

The Texas doctors said their patients were suffering from a viral form of conjunctivitis--one that lasted twice as long as usual and resisted typical treatments.

"Viruses and bacteria can evolve, and they can become more resistant to treatments," Lievens said. "So it's plausible it could be true, but I've not seen a scientific investigation that that's really the case."

Regardless, pink eye is highly contagious and can live on inanimate surfaces.

Chances are if you get it in one eye, you'll get it in the other too.

"Hand washing is the number one remedy for these viruses," Lievens said.

Keeping hands clean is especially important this time of year as kids head back to classrooms. This is when doctors typically see a spike in pink eye cases.

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