Published Date: 2012-10-18 09:37:41
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> West Nile virus - Eurasia (14): South Korea ex Guinea
Archive Number: 20121018.1349816
WEST NILE VIRUS - EURASIA (14): SOUTH KOREA ex GUINEA
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 17 Oct 2012
Source: The Korean Herald, Yonhap News report [edited]
South Korean health authorities confirmed Wednesday [17 Oct 2012] the country's 1st West Nile virus case involving a patient who contracted the disease while traveling in Africa.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), the patient, whose identity was withheld for privacy reasons, traveled to Guinea from January to June  and returned to the country after developing symptoms of West Nile fever.
The patient is currently being treated for various related symptoms that include paralysis, the KCDC said.
West Nile virus is a mosquito borne disease usually found in the West Nile region [also found in southern and central Europe, North Africa, and the Americas. - Mod.TY]
There are currently no vaccines for the disease, which has claimed over 120 lives in the United States and Canada this year  alone.
With the 1st confirmed case of West Nile virus in the country, the KCDC is moving to intensify its watch on the deadly virus, starting with cautions for people traveling to Africa.
In a recent memo to all hospitals and health institutes, the KCDC requested special attention to patients who recently returned from virus-prone areas, including the United States, with possible symptoms of the disease. The case-fatality rate is said to be as high as 15 per cent among the elderly though less than 1 per cent of people infected with the West Nile virus develop severe illnesses.
The lack of any vaccine to prevent a possible spread of the virus makes it more important to ensure the virus does not become native to the country, KCDC officials said. [West Nile virus (WNV) would not become established in South Korea or elsewhere from the entry of viremic people. Human viremias are not high enough to infect mosquitoes for ongoing transmission. However, there exists the possibility of WNV-infected mosquitoes being brought into a WNV-free country by commercial aircraft, which may have been the mechanism for the entry of the virus into New York City, USA in 1999. - Mod.TY]
"The United States, where the West Nile virus is apparently spreading, had not reported any infection cases until 1999," said Kwon Joon-wook, head of KCDC's Center for Infectious Disease Control.
The KCDC has continued to check for West Nile virus in sample mosquitoes in the country. It plans to increase the number of tests and sample mosquitoes to intensify its monitoring.
[Although ProMED-mail has posted a few reports of human West Nile virus (WNV) infections in East, Central, and South Africa, this is the 1st ProMED report of a WNV infection acquired in Guinea. Given the widespread geographic distribution of the virus and its establishment in a variety of ecosystems, occurrence of the virus in West Africa should not be surprising.
HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive maps:
South Korea: http://healthmap.org/r/1BIE. - Mod.TY]