Bob Costas benched as Olympics anchor due to eye infection

MISSOULA, Mont. - NBC Olympics Anchor Bob Costas was unable to anchor Tuesday's Olympics coverage due to his worsening eye infection. The condition is called conjunctivitis, though it is more commonly referred to as pink eye.

"Today" show host Matt Lauer is stepping in as Costas recovers. Lauer and the rest of the Today Show team will host the morning show from Russia until the completion of the Olympic games.

NBC Montana sat down with Missoula City-County Health Promotions Manager Cindy Hotchkiss to discuss what causes conjunctivitis and how it can be prevented.

The condition is brought about by the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane over the eye's white area.

"There are about four million or more cases a year of pink eye in the United States. It's very, very common," said Hotchkiss.

The condition can be viral, bacterial or allergic. Allergy-related conjunctivitis is not contagious and is the body's reaction to allergens like mold and dander. Viral conjunctivitis is a virus-caused infection that can be linked to sore throats and colds. Bacterial conjunctivitis is bacteria-sourced, and is a leading cause of school absences for children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The recommendation is that you go to your health care provider and let them try and determine what the actual cause is," said Hotchkiss.

Conjunctivitis can be prevented by washing your hands often, using warm water and soap. You are also advised against rubbing or touching your eyes and sharing towels and clothing.

"Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. That's the best prevention method that there is," said Hotchkiss.


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