Kathmandu, September 25

BP Koirala Lions Centre for Ophthalmic Studies has confirmed the outbreak of SHAPU, Seasonal Hyper Acute Panuveitis — a sight-threatening ocular epidemic disease — in the country. It is mostly found in children below 10.

Ten Children below five years have already ben diagnosed with SHAPU within 12 days, informed D. Ranju Kharel Sitaula, uveitis specialist at BP Koirala Lions Centre for Ophthalmic Studies, Maharajgunj Kathmandu. “SHAPU hit the country in the year 2015. Earlier, nearly 50 people, including children, were infected with SHAPU but this year, we fear it will affect more children,” she informed.

A 46-day old infant, Rojan Sunar of Miyapatan, Pokhara, got infected by SHAPU. Raj Kumar Sunar, the father of the baby informed Rojan suffered from allergy after a moth landed on his cheeks. On the second day, the child’s eyes turned red and began to swell. “We took the baby to Pokhara Eye Hospital for treatment but doctors at the hospital referred the child to BP Koirala Hospital for immediate operation,” added Sunar.

“Five days after the infection baby was successfully operated on Friday,” informed Dr Kharel. Among the 10 recent cases, two children have low vision even after operation, while others have their vision intact.

SHAPU infection spreads between September to December soon after the end of monsoon. It was first reported in Nepal in 1978. Though the actual reasons for the infection are still unknown almost all patients affected by the disease so far have informed doctors about their history of contact with moths at home.

According to Dr Sagun Narayan Joshi, Retina Specialist and Head of Department of Ophthalmology, timely and early vitrectomy, a surgical operation for removing the vitreous tumour from the eyeball, is a useful procedure for the treatment of SHAPU and helps restore the patients’ vision fully or partially. Patients may suffer permanent loss of sight in case of delay in treatment. “Within 24 hours, symptoms of the infection can be seen and if not treated within 48 hours one can lose vision for life time,” added Dr Joshi.

Sudden onset of redness — leukocoria — in one eye with minimal pain in and around the affected eye, and sudden loss or drastic diminution of vision with no eye wax are the common symptoms of SHAPU. “Any person developing such symptoms should be taken to the nearest eye treatment centre or ophthalmologist for timely treatment,” said Joshi. He advised parents to prevent their children from coming into contact with moths, use mosquito net at night and not to use white light lamps or CFL as they attract moths, as part of preventive measures against the disease.

For convenience and quick treatment of patients, the hospital has formed ‘SHAPU Rapid Response Team’. Anyone can dial helpline number 9840539632 for immediate treatment.