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February 7, 1942


JAMA. 1942;118(6):460. doi:10.1001/jama.1942.02830060040012

During the summer of 1941, according to Holmes,1 a rapidly spreading type of acute conjunctivitis raged in Oahu, Hawaii. At first, patients and doctors called it "pink eye." However, when repeated cultures and smears were made from conjunctival scrapings and secretions from more than 50 cases, investigators found it impossible to determine any offending organism. In October a considerable number of cases began to appear in California, and the peak of the outbreak was reached in December. At that time authorities noted that 2 per cent of workers in some ship building plants were affected, but the percentage of those affected was higher in special groups, such as welders, whose eyes are notoriously subjected to the trauma of light.

After an incubation period of from two to five days the patients experience pain, excessive lacrimation and the feeling that some granular dusty body or some other foreign substance is

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