Why rugby players got eye infection in Singapore

159 players suffered eye infection (Getty Images)159 players suffered eye infection (Getty Images)

A muddy pitch could have been the cause of an eye infection that affected dozens of players in an international rugby tournament held at Turf City in April.

That's what the Ministry of Health said Friday, when it announced that it had concluded its investigation into the outbreak.

A total of 159 from participating countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were infected with microsporidial keratoconjunctivitis which included symptoms such as "eye redness, pain and itchiness, blurred vision, photosensitivity and eye discharge."

"MOH's investigations revealed that microspordial spores are likely to be ubiquitous in soil here and are not limited to the Turf City pitches," the ministry said in a press release.

"Cases of eye infection with microsporidia have been known to occur in Singapore. Two studies of microsporidial keratoconjunctivitis cases by ophthalmologists in Singapore identified prior soil or mud contamination in the eye as important risk factors," it added.

The MOH also advised the public to avoid playing in such conditions, saying, "To reduce the risk of microsporidia eye infection during sporting activities on grass pitches in Singapore, members of the public are advised to avoid playing on very muddy or waterlogged pitches for sports involving contact with soil or mud.

"If playing in such conditions cannot be avoided, one should ensure that one's hands and face are thoroughly washed after the event."