Butler University Health Services is seeing a spike in the number of pink eye cases on campus recently.
Dr. Maria Fletcher, Health Services physician, said the clinic was seeing around 11 cases per day as of press time.
She said students with pink eye first started coming in after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Health Services was only seeing about three or four cases per day then.
“It’s definitely not life-threatening.,” Fletcher said. “It’s definitely not horrible discomfort, but it is a nuisance because you see it. It’s in your face, so you can hardly ignore it.”
Fletcher said large numbers of pink eye cases come and go just like any other disease, but she said this outbreak is “pretty robust” compared to others she’s seen since she came to Butler in 2009.
The cases Health Services have seen are the viral form of conjunctivitis, Fletcher said.
The common symptoms of the virus include itchy or scratchy eyes, redness, painful sensitivity to light, swelling of eyelids, matting of eyelashes and watery pus or discharge.
Fletcher said the virus is contagious, and the close living quarters on a college campus contribute to spread of the disease.
She said it’s a lot like the common cold. It’s actually caused by the same virus, and like the cold, pink eye will clear up within a few days.
Although the virus will usually clear up on its own, Fletcher said Health Services has antibiotic eye drops students can take that will decrease the length of the virus and also help prevent students from giving the virus to someone else.
“Because we all live in close proximity to each other, we have to do something about it,” Fletcher said.
Close proximity seems to be the cause of the spread, as most of the students Fletcher has seen have lived in dorms, sorority or fraternity houses or have been involved with the dance program.
She said because dancers practice together a lot, they have a greater risk of getting the virus.
The same goes for Greek houses, Fletcher said. This time of year is when the houses are practicing Freshman Skits and starting to have formals on weekends.
Freshman Will Kinder had to miss out on Kappa Alpha Theta’s semi-formal and Freshman Skits practice last weekend after contracting pink eye.
Kinder said the virus is going around the Sigma Nu house, as many of his brothers have had it as well.
He said the virus hasn’t affected his schoolwork too much, though he did have to miss one class. He said he has been more careful not to touch things after rubbing his eyes and makes sure to wash his hands.
“The last thing I want to do is infect someone,” Kinder said.
Kinder said he’s been busy, so he didn’t go to the HRC to get it checked out. He borrowed a friend’s eye drops instead.
“It’s the sight of it that freaks people out,” Kinder said. “It’s not as deadly as everyone thinks.”
Though it may not be deadly, sophomore Laura Beer said it was a good and bad thing she got pink eye over the weekend two weeks ago.
Beer said it was good because she was able to lie in bed and get better without missing class, but it was bad because it was hard to get treatment for it.
“The health center is closed on the weekends,” Beer said. “That was a huge inconvenience. I also don’t have a car, so that was a huge speed bump too. My mom had to pick up my prescription and bring it to me.”
Beer said she most likely got the virus from her roommate, though her boyfriend and other friends had it as well.
“It was awful,” Beer said. “I had all the symptoms you could associate with pink eye.”
Although the symptoms can be bothersome, Fletcher said pink eye should clear up on its own in a few days.
“We want you all to go on Spring Break and give it to someone else away from campus,” Fletcher joked.
Fletcher said she hopes this week will be the peak of the pink eye cases and that they will begin to lessen starting next week.