Wed, Jun 10, 2015 - Page 3 News List

CDC expands level 2 alert to whole of South Korea

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday expanded its level 2 travel advisory for Seoul to the whole of South Korea, as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) epidemic continues to spread.

The centers made the announcement following a meeting of infectious disease experts yesterday, a week after it raised its epidemic travel advisory for the country’s capital from level 1 to level 2, which advises travelers to maintain a high degree of caution and take strong protective measures.

“While there is yet to be any signs of community transmission of MERS in [South] Korea, the nation’s outbreak is the largest outside Saudi Arabia. To ensure that our citizens take necessary precautionary measures when visiting [South] Korea, the CDC has decided to expand the alert advisory to include the entire country,” the centers said in a press release.

As of Monday, the virus had infected 95 people and killed seven, with nearly 2,900 having been put under quarantine.

In related news, Taipei City Hospital’s Renai Branch yesterday ruled out MERS as the cause of a South Korean tourist’s abnormal fever.

“The 35-year-old male patient came from Seoul and was on a five-day trip to Taiwan with his wife and daughter. He experienced elevated body temperature of nearly 39?C and a sore throat on Monday night before seeking medical care at the hospital at 8:56am this morning [Tuesday],” chief medical officer Chen Shiou-sheng (陳修聖) said.

In light of the MERS epidemic in South Korea, Chen said the hospital immediately activated its infection control mechanism and requested that the patient put on a surgical mask, before having medical personnel clad in protective clothing measure his body temperature.

The man was breathing normally without coughing or any signs of pulmonary infection, Chen said.

“Since he tested negative for influenza and did not visit a [South] Korean hospital or have close contact with a patient with MERS in the past two weeks, we have ruled out MERS infection,” Chen said.

The man left the hospital at 10:45am yesterday and was due to return home last night, Chen added.

In other medical news, the centers yesterday urged the parents of toddlers and those residing close to pig farms or rice paddies to get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, as the mosquito-borne disease has reached its peak season.

“Japanese encephalitis occurs annually between May and October and usually peaks in June and July. As of Monday, no cases of the disease have been reported,” CDC Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) told a press conference in Taipei.

However, a total of 121 cases of Japanese encephalitis infection were recorded from 2010 to last year, Chou said, adding that people aged between 30 and 59 and those living in central and southern parts of the nation were statistically more likely to contract the virus.

Chou also advised people to wear light trousers and long-sleeved shirts near farms during mosquitoes’ most active periods, at dawn and dusk.

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