“Apollo 11”: The Unwelcome recurring visitor in most Ghanaian homes

Recording the first case of an epidemic of acute conjunctivitis locally known as ‘Apollo 11 disease’ in Ghana in June 1969 was a fear to many within the various health facilities due to the vast spread of the disease.

Conjunctivitis or Pink Eyes was first recorded in Nungua, a suburb of the Greater Accra Region on June 26, 1969.

The contagious disease according to health experts can affect both children and adults.

Recently, the rise of conjunctivitis in Ghana has increased amidst the cold weather conditions.

The Ghana Report in an exclusive interview with Madam Rebecca Amaniampong with the Prince of Peace Hospital in Darkuman indicated that although conjunctivitis was first identified as an epidemic, it seems its reoccurrence in the country is becoming predominant, therefore it is now considered an endemic.

However, she admonished the public not to panic because there has not been any reported case of ‘Apollo 11 disease’ claiming the life of a patient.

Signs And Symptoms of Conjunctivitis Disease

Madam Rebecca indicated that a patient suffering from conjunctivitis from the onset will experience pains in the eyes and from the second day, the region around the eyes begins to swell.

“The disease shows its peak usually within 24 hours of onset. On the second day, the patient will feel some pain and water coming out from the eyes but after five days or a week later, the patient’s eyes become normal” she noted.

“However, there are some patients whose eyes remain in the disease for two weeks before they become normal”, she noted.

She added that a person suffering from “Apollo 11 disease” may have some itches in one or both eyes.

“A discharge in one or both eyes that forms a crust during the night that may prevent your eye from opening in the morning,” Madam Rebecca indicated this is one of the signs.

Photophobia[fear of light] and constant tears emanating from the eyes were other signs and symptoms raised by the health expert.


Madam Rebecca noted that the disease is caused by bacteria but babies who suffer from the disease are the result of a tear duct found in the eyes”.

An allergic reaction to the disease can make one become infected with the disease.

Moreover, chemical splashes in the eyes or any ‘foreign’ object [any unprescribed substance] without a prescription by a professional health worker can lead to conjunctivitis.

Spread Of Conjunctivitis Disease

Conjunctivitis like other contagious diseases according to the health expert is transferred when an infected person comes into contact with a non-infected person directly.


The health expert admonished persons suffering from conjunctivitis to use eye drops called artificial tears to lubricate dry eyes.

Also, individuals who might not be able to afford eye drops are required to wipe their eyes with a wet cloth.

She advised patients to severely compress their eyes with either cold or warm water during the day.

Traditional/Local Treatment

In an interview with one family that was recently struck with conjunctivitis disease, the affected persons disclosed to The Ghana Report that they treated the disease by using seawater to wash their faces regularly and after two days they recovered from the disease.

The head of the family indicated that using seawater to cure ‘Apollo 11 disease’ was introduced to him by his late grandfather and that has been the family’s medicine for the disease.

However, the Ghana Optometric Association has condemned the use of seawater in treating conjunctivitis.

Below are the other harmful practices concerning “Apollo” treatment.

  1. Anonymous says

    I would have appreciated it if you had explained why locally,it is referred to as Apollo.
    Thank you.

    1. Grace Tsotsoo Quaye says

      Kindly click the attached link to know why the locals named it “Apollo”. Thank you.



    I have had my share already. Anyways good piece

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