Swine Flu and Conjunctivitis

Nurses COVID



H7N3 and H7N7, both bird flu viruses have been known to cause conjunctivitis as a common symptom in humans. This is the first article that I have run across saying that swine flu can cause this also. These were lab confirmed cases.

Personally, I find this interestig because two weeks ago, I developed a significant case of conjunctivitis along with general malaise that sent me to an urgent care center. I have never had mucus pouring out of my eyes before, and was concerned about going to work that way. I should be so lucky as to have been affected in such a mild way, if I now have immunity to swine flu, but alas, I will never know if I did or not. As an asthmatic, this would have been a best case scenario for me despite being as uncomfortable as it was. This was my first call out from work in over a year.

I would be very interested to know if anyone else has developed conjunctivitis.

Guyana remains on high alert for new swine flu cases, according to Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who revealed that the illness appears to be accompanied by conjunctivitis.

With some 29 specimens already tested and only two positive cases confirmed he said that the impact of H1N1 here has been moderate so far.

Speaking with Stabroek News on Thursday last at his Brickdam office hours before his ministry was destroyed by fire he said that persons with the H1N1 flu do not have different symptoms from those suffering from the common flu. However, he noted that experiences in other countries have pointed to the swine flu being accompanied by conjunctivitis.

The normal flu is not accompanied by conjunctivitis (red eyes), Ramsammy noted, but he cautioned that the presence of conjunctivitis is not a necessary confirmation of H1N1.

“We only had two confirmed cases, but the experience in other countries point to a high percentage of persons whose flu seems to be accompanied by conjunctivitis… therefore if someone has flu and they seem to have conjunctivitis it is very suspicious,” he said.

The minister pointed out that if someone is suffering from both illnesses then a specimen should certainly be taken and sent overseas for testing.

In addition to the presence of conjunctivitis, he said that people with the H1N1 flu virus also seem to experience some diarrhoea and vomiting which the ministry has since added to the index of suspicion.

Ramsammy said too that if the flu persists for some time, running past a week persons should take note and see a doctor because swine flu patients are usually sick for many days. He added that the regular flu only lasts for a few days.

“If you have fever for more than a week it is something that you should check out with the doctors, but it is not wise to wait for a whole week before you see a doctor,” he stated.

He stressed that H1N1 has similar symptoms as the normal flu such as body aches, fatigue, loss of appetite, cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever.

The Health Minister said that currently medical professionals across the globe are accumulating evidence from people and trying to see if there are certain things that are peculiar with H1N1, but noted that so far they have not found anything peculiar.

However, he said scientists studying the flu virus have now discovered that unlike other viruses H1N1 seem to have the ability to move from the lungs to other areas of the body which he referred to as a troublesome indicator. This, he said, might explain the diarrhoea and vomiting.

(hat tip PFI/marsupial777)

RedWeasel, RN

428 Posts

Specializes in RN CRRN.

I have said this before but with my sinus inf and then probable strep-(and possible start of pneumonia according to a NP I work with before I started a stronger ATB) 3 weeks ago, my eyes would run like they were crying but they never got mucus=y. My throat tho eventualy had two huge white patches in the back of my throat-seems like it goes where it wants to settle! I half imagined that I would end up with pink eye! Then the green junk I coughed up-anyone know what bacteria that is? Pseudomonas? I had bright yellow junk from my sinuses at first then the neon green. Never had 3+ infections at the same time! So this thing (if that is what I had) is pretty potent. What I had found a vulnerability and decided to settle there. The bacterial infs are gone, but I still feel fatigued and coughing-if I had a virus-this is the part that seems to be lingering.


129 Posts

One of the signs of a "new" infectious agent is that it causes many symptoms, the body has no 'memory' of it, can't fight it effectively, so it runs amock. Why not the eyes? They are mucousy membranes, warm, moist, the perfect home.

General malaise with no acute illness? Also a sign, as the body tries to mount a defense but doesn't quite get there. It's trying, but enough of the little buggers survive to re-attack.

Meanwhile, the poor slob who has it isn't quite sick enough to stay home, so off to work they go, feeling crappy, and spreading their new found friends to others.

The good news is that viruses, like bacteria, have no interest in killing off their hosts. They need them to survive. So, after the big die-off, they usually settle down and create lesser illnesses.

This, of course, is of no help to the ones that die off in the first wave or two.

indigo girl

5,173 Posts

Specializes in Too many to list.

It is true that you can test positive and be asymptomatic with this virus. And, we know as well that some cases in Mexico were afebrile. This does help the virus to infect more people as these cases don't feel very sick, and it would not be known that they are infected if they were not tested. There are many case histories of this in the literature of the various influenza viruses. Even seasonal flu is known to cause these types of cases.

I did elect to stay home with my nasty eye infection because these can be contagious. My unit gave me more time off as well. I just felt generally lousy. At the time I remember wondering why this could make me feel so run down...

I will never know if it was the flu virus without getting tested for antibodies which is not going to happen.


2 Posts

In April, I had what seemed like a severe flu accompanied by the most alarming conjunctivitis I've ever experienced. I awoke to eyes so crusted over that I had to rinse them in warm water for a few minutes in order to open them. I also experienced night sweats, loss of appetite, aches and pains, and probably the worst cough I've ever had in my life. My throat was intensely painful, and I was so worried by my condition that I went to the the doctor twice. Weirdly (and I've heard this has been happening in some swine flu cases), I didn't have a fever, so the docs. brushed it all off as a really bad cold. I was told to simply wait it out, even though I knew that this was not just a typical virus. This all happened in early April, so no one knew to test me for swine flu. My baby seemed to catch a milder case of it (I was breastfeeding, so I think my antibodies helped keep it at bay in his case), and all he really experienced was a little conjunctivitis and some malaise. I'm convinced, however, that I had swine flu, because a few weeks later a dozen or so confirmed cases had sprung up in the town I'd visited over Easter. All in all, I was very sick for about a week and suffered from the cough for a few months. I would love to know if I did, indeed, have swine flu so that I wouldn't have to worry about catching it anymore.

indigo girl

5,173 Posts

Specializes in Too many to list.

Where do you live? That would be interesting to know.

We do not hear much in the news about conjunctivitis however, it is well known to occur with some influenzas. I was not so sick as you although the conjunctivitis was distresssing. I have never experienced this before in my life. I just remember sitting in the urgent care center and thinking, why do I feel so sick? It's only conjunctivitis...


2 Posts

I live in Grand Forks, ND. I'm pretty sure I contracted the virus in Minot, ND, though. My body was definitely confused by it. I could tell right away that it was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. If it was swine flu, I think I must've had a moderate to severe case, b/c I keep reading about people who experienced only mild symptoms, like sore throat and stuffy nose. Like they say: everyone responds to it differently. The conjunctivitis was probably the most disturbing part, though. I couldn't believe I had to suffer through that on top of everything else!


5,758 Posts

About that fever thing. A lot of people take medication that suppresses fever at home and by the time they get to doctors or ER they are no longer febrile. I remember I would not medicate my children for fever before taking them to doctor because it always seemed I would not be believed if the kid was not febrile right then.


101 Posts

Specializes in telemetry.

On the 15th, I had what I would call the cold from hell. RAPID (I mean over the course of 3-4 hours) onset of extream fatigue, compleatly blocked sinuses, runny nose, spastic cough, difficulty moving air, crusty/watery eyes, completly lost my voice, completley lost my appatite, and a HA. Never had the fever or sore throat. The cough later became VERY productive. My respiratory tract became so sore I felt like I had razors coming out my anterior and posterior chest.

I stayed in bed for 4 days, and then spent the next three on the couch.

After a week, (assuming I had a cold) I went back to work. The cough proceeded for another week and a half. It is still kinda there now to this day.

I am not they type to get colds. I have a kicken immune system. I have not had any illnesses for a year and a half (and that was a 2 day GI bug).

I think that since I am pregnant, my immune system is not what it should be. And we did have swine flu Pts recently. Now I am wondering/hoping if that is what I really had. I dont want to get it this winter when I am in my third trimester. (due date january 26th)


Forgot to mention that my family also had a "cold" but to a MUCH lesser extent than I did (husband, 9yo, 18month old)

indigo girl

5,173 Posts

Specializes in Too many to list.

Tropism and Innate Host Responses of the 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Virus in ex Vivo and in Vitro Cultures of Human Conjunctiva and Respiratory Tract


Keep those goggles and face shields handy in case the swine flu returns.


The novel pandemic influenza H1N1 (H1N1pdm) virus of swine origin causes mild disease but occasionally leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome and death. It is important to understand the pathogenesis of this new disease in humans. We compared the virus tropism and host-responses elicited by pandemic H1N1pdm and seasonal H1N1 influenza viruses in ex vivo cultures of human conjunctiva, nasopharynx, bronchus, and lung, as well as in vitro cultures of human nasopharyngeal, bronchial, and alveolar epithelial cells. We found comparable replication and host-responses in seasonal and pandemic H1N1 viruses. However, pandemic H1N1pdm virus differs from seasonal H1N1 influenza virus in its ability to replicate in human conjunctiva, suggesting subtle differences in its receptor-binding profile and highlighting the potential role of the conjunctiva as an additional route of infection with H1N1pdm. A greater viral replication competence in bronchial epithelium at 33°C may also contribute to the slight increase in virulence of the pandemic influenza virus. In contrast with highly pathogenic influenza H5N1 virus, pandemic H1N1pdm does not differ from seasonal influenza virus in its intrinsic capacity for cytokine dysregulation. Collectively, these results suggest that pandemic H1N1pdm virus differs in modest but subtle ways from seasonal H1N1 virus in its intrinsic virulence for humans, which is in accord with the epidemiology of the pandemic to date. These findings are therefore relevant for understanding transmission and therapy.

(hat tip to Avian Flu Diary)


1 Post

I have been sick for about 2 weeks. It started with exhaustion - tight chest (thought I was going to have a stroke actually) - & had on and off dizzy episodes out of nowhere at work - home - I had a fever (around 99 so not so high) I wasn't really ill (what I consider ill) so I went about my regular life. Went to New York for a week. While there had off and on episodes of nausea and chills/sweating and would be fine within a few minutes or about an hour. Usually was precipitated by steam heat in my apt bldg. I came home and the next day woke up with:

chest congestion, total laryngitis (total), a horrible sore throat (like a strep), and a tickle that was causing some coughing with alot of just air expulsion. Within about 24 hrs. I was sick as a dog.. My chest was so tight and I had a dry hacking painful cough. I started self medicating with day and nyquil and motrin which seemed to help a little with the cough so I could at least sleep. I decided against going to the doctor again because I figured it was flu and maybe H1n1. Read up with it online and it seemed to have all my symptoms. I have a very low grade fever so this hasn't been significant.

Today - day 6 of the outright flu or 13 with everything else I started to cough less and the sore throat isn't as bad. Still there though. I now have a wicked headache with bloody mucus and a few hours ago developed conjunctivitis in my right eye. Started and got really bad in about 5 minutes. My nasal cavity is very stuff and nothing seems to open my airway. I thought I could tough it out but not going to happen. I guess it is good I waited a week because I would have paid for a doctor and would have needed a recheck to get pink eye medication. I caught conjunctivitis from my daughter when she was a baby over 20 years ago and it came back over and over for several years every time I got exhausted. It just stayed in my system. Hope this isn't what happens this time. I think I must have h1n1 from my list of symptoms. I did not get a shot since I wasn't in a risk group and they were low in the area and I didn't want to get 2 h1n1 shots and a seasonal flu. Will rethink this next year. Wasn't a great idea.

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