A telltale sign of COVID-19?

ByMike Moffitt, SFGATE

Updated

  • Red skin around the eyes might be a sign of COVID-19, according to a nurse who treated patients during the coronavirus outbreak at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., in February-March 2020. Photo: Heidijpix/Getty Images / Heidi van der Westhui

    Crimson skin around the eyes can be a sign of COVID-19, according to a nurse who treated patients during the coronavirus outbreak at the Existence Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., in February-March 2020.

    Crimson skin around the eyes can be a sign of COVID-19, according to a nurse who treated patients during the coronavirus outbreak at the Existence Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., in February-March 2020.

    Photo: Heidijpix/Getty Images

Photo: Heidijpix/Getty Images

Crimson skin around the eyes can be a sign of COVID-19, according to a nurse who treated patients during the coronavirus outbreak at the Existence Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., in February-March 2020.

Crimson skin around the eyes can be a sign of COVID-19, according to a nurse who treated patients during the coronavirus outbreak at the Existence Care Center in Kirkland, Wash., in February-March 2020.

Photo: Heidijpix/Getty Images

A veteran registered nurse who treated COVID-19 patients in Washington state said the sickest all appeared to have one thing in popular — redness around the eyes.

“It be something that I witnessed in all of them. They have, care for … allergy eyes. The white part of the survey just isn’t red. It be more care for they have red survey shadow on the outside of their eyes,” Chelsey Earnest toldCNNon Monday.

The Facilities for Disease Sustain an eye on and Prevention at the second does checklist conjunctivitis or survey redness as a symptom of COVID-19.

Earnest was working at the Existence Care Center in Kirkland in late February when the unconventional coronavirus rampaged thru the nursing home in the early stages of the pandemic. At least 37 deaths are linked to the COVID-19 outbreak there. The average age of the deceased was 80.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) on Tuesday updated analertwarning that, based on several reviews, SARS-CoV-2 may cause a “detached follicular conjunctivitis otherwise indistinguishable from other viral causes, and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva.”

Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the front of the survey and lines the inside of the eyelids. It also can cause the skin around the eyes to develop into itchy and redden.

The AAO advised ophthalmologists with patients who inform symptoms of conjunctivitis, shortness of breath, fever and cough to wear protective gear including covering their mouth, nose and eyes.

Earnest said at the Existence Care Center, red eyes became essentially the most reliable sign that a patient had contracted the disease.

“I’ve even had the disaster medical maintain an eye on physician say, ‘Originate they have the red eyes?’ And I’ll say certain. And he’ll say, ‘I’ll find you a bed.’ It be factual something about this, the way that it affects these patients,” she said in the CNN interview.

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Mike Moffitt is an SFGATE Digital Reporter. Email: moffitt@sfgate.com. Twitter: @Mike_at_SFGate

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