Wed, Mar 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

CDC says no travel alert for S Korea despite Zika case

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) yesterday said it would not issue a travel alert for South Korea despite Seoul’s confirmation of its first case of Zika virus infection and a specialist’s warning that the virus was likely to affect Taiwan.

A 43-year old male South Korean, who recently returned from Brazil, was diagnosed with Zika after suffering fever, muscle pain and rash, South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement yesterday.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the man, who returned home on March 11, tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus after traveling to Brazil between the middle of last month and early this month, and had been treated in quarantine at a hospital.

China Medical University Hospital Division of Contagious Diseases division chief Wang Jen-hsien (王任賢) said there are fewer mosquitoes in South Korea due to the cooler temperatures, but mosquito species such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus can transmit the dengue virus as well as the Zika virus, so if an infection case enters Taiwan, the likeliness of an outbreak is higher than in South Korea.

Compared with dengue infection, symptoms of Zika infection is often milder, so it can be more difficult to detect at airports, he said, adding that since the Zika virus is very likely to affect Taiwan, getting rid of vector mosquitoes is important to stave off the disease.

Later in the afternoon, the CDC said that South Korea does not have vector mosquitoes, a dengue fever epidemic or indigenous Zika cases, so infection risks from the Zika virus is considered relatively low.

As disease prevention measures are being taken at airports and harbors, the CDC said it would not issue a travel alert for South Korea for the time being.

The CDC urged people to take extra precautionary measures to prevent against Zika infection when traveling to Latin America or the Caribbean, where a travel “alert” has been issued.

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