New Covid-19 variant Arcturus could cause pink eye

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 9:29 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Arizona health workers have reported more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week. Several hundred of them are likely a new variant, which has many people worried it comes with a new symptom.

It’s known by doctors as conjunctivitis, but its common name is pink eye.

“Infection is a major cause of pink eye, especially with respiratory viruses,” Dr. Kareem Shehab, Division Chief Pediatric Infectious Diseases with the University of Arizona College of Medicine, said. “Those seasons can overlap a little bit, so it can be challenging to differentiate pink eye that’s infectious or just allergic conjunctivitis.”

Dr. Shehab said that with allergic conjunctivitis, your eyes itch more. That can be common in kids who are school-aged or older.

He said, with Covid-19, the symptoms can look different for everybody. “For some people, it’s a respiratory infection. For other people, it’s rashes, for other people it’s a fever. Conjunctivitis would be one of the things to add to the list that Covid could cause.”

Even then, Dr. Shehab said the current information is too preliminary to say if there is a direct correlation. He continued, “There have been recent reports that there may perhaps be a link between this Covid variant that’s very common in India. It’s starting to appear in the United States, but it hasn’t become very common in our neck of the woods yet.”

He said the best way to stop this virus’s spread is to ensure you’re current on your vaccines and continue washing your hands.

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