Cases of pink eye and other infections increase

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COLUMBIA - Cases of pink eye and other bacterial and viral diseases have increased in Columbia.

Dr. Scott Schultz at Providence Urgent Care said anytime there is a long period of cold weather, people stay close together inside, and contagious ailments spread quickly.

"When it gets bitterly cold outside, everybody tends to stay inside and congregate in certain spots, so the rate of transmission of those diseases goes up," Schultz said.

While pink eye is often spread in children, it can affect people of any age. Close quarters and poor hygiene contribute to the cases.

Schultz said pink eye isn't particularly harmful, but it can escalate into something worse. He said if a person cannot see or wears contact lenses, he or she should visit a physician.

In contrast, with spring and warmer weather on the way, cases of viral and bacterial infections are expected to decline. Schultz said he expects more cases of physical injury in the coming weeks.

"As the temperatures rise, the communicable diseases start to decrease, and we'll see more incidents of traumatic illnesses like sprained ankles, broken arms, cuts and scrapes," Schultz said. "The diseases from viruses and bacteria go down but all the other traumatic things go up."