Posted by: Dr Thunder
Little Timmy is 7.
He's from a middle class family, and goes to a good school. But he's been ill a few times lately. Mum reports that he's been getting "pink eye" recurrently over the last few months.
Their GP has given them antibacterial eyedrops each time, and has showed them proper "eye toileting", which have cleared it up. But timmy's mother reckons their GP isn't treating the problem properly, because it keeps coming back. I had my doubts, as this GP is known locally as being very reliable. But that's why they ended up in the paediatric emergency department this time. They wanted a "proper opinion" from a paediatrics registrar.
Ironically, their GP used to be a paediatric emergency registrar in our department.
Anyway, I examined the eye, and it looked like pretty straightforward conjunctivitis. So, I took a swab to see if there were any bacteria growing, and sent him off with some antibacterial drops in the meantime.
I phoned Dr. Taylor, their family GP a couple of days later, to tell him that Timmy's swab didn't grow a bacteria. We were talking about the recurrent conjunctivitis, when the GP told me what was actually happening.
One kid in Timmy's class has had conjunctivitis for the last few months. It's an easily treatable condition. But it's HIGHLY contagious. This child's mum doesn't like conventional western medicine. So, she's been bringing him to see a variety of herbalists, and lately he's been going to a homeopath.
Meanwhile, he still has pink eye, and keeps giving it to his classmates. it's just going round in circles.
Dr Taylor is seeing his classmates on a regular basis, and has been giving the correct treatment and advice. But conjunctivitis is difficult to prevent when the "index case" is being treated with magic water.
His mum has told one of the other parents that she's using a homeopathic remedy called "Argentum Nitricum". I cannot find any studies that suggest it works. But, ya know, you don't have to bother with that kind of legwork if it's "alternative" medicine.
The GP is going to talk to the teacher, and ask her to try to persuade them to get the kid to a doctor, as I'm little unsure about the long term effects of untreated conjunctivitis. All this really needs is good cleaning, as it appears to be viral in nature. I've suggested the school ask parents to keep children with conjunctivitis at home.
This is likely to be the only thing that will make the index case's mum get proper medical treatment, as having a kid at home with pink eye is likely to affect her coffee morning attendance abilities.
Cases like this make me mad. People have a right to shun conventional medicine. But surely seeing half the class walking around with inflammed eyes would guilt any reasonable person into getting proper treatment.
I need to go and calm down I think. Now where did I put that herbal tea?........