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November 4, 1974

Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis

Author Affiliations

Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco; Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory State of California Department of Health

JAMA. 1974;230(5):727-728. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240050055030

In 1969, an explosive epidemic of conjunctivitis with severe conjunctival hemorrhages swept through West Africa.1 This new syndrome, acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis (AHC), was originally referred to as "Apollo conjunctivitis" by virtue of its appearance at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In 1970 and 1971, similar epidemics occurred in North Africa, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Taiwan, with somewhat later outbreaks in Japan, Korea, India, and Europe.

Acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis was immediately recognized as a new ocular disease by its clinical and epidemiological characteristics. Affected patients experience the sudden onset of conjunctivitis with lid swelling, tearing, serous discharge, and photophobia; the inflammation in the conjunctiva is accompanied by lymphoid follicles and spectacular hemorrhages as well as preauricular lymphadenopathy. The disease is self-limited, running its course in seven to ten days. Epidemics of AHC have occurred mainly in developing countries and have involved both urban and