Korea may no longer be safe from dengue fever

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Korea may no longer be safe from dengue fever

South Korean scientists said yesterday they discovered larvae of the Asian tiger mosquito, a carrier of dengue fever virus, on the South Korean southern island of Jeju, suggesting the country is no longer safe from the life-threatening tropical disease.

The team of scientists, led by Lee Keun-hwa, a professor at Jeju National University, said they found the mosquito’s larvae on the island in December following its collection of a specimen in the island’s Seogwipo city the previous year.

“We have reported our findings to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Lee said, adding he introduced the team’s discovery to a recent forum on climate change in Jeju. Dengue, which affects around tens of millions of people every year worldwide, is a flu-like viral disease spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus causes a fever along with a rash, headache, muscle pain and a decrease in white blood cells and platelets. Secondary infection of the virus can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can cause shock leading to death.

The team’s discovery raises the possibility that South Korea is no longer safe from tropical endemic diseases. Dengue fever is a disease of tropical regions and the discovery suggests the Korean Peninsula is turning into a subtropical zone as a result of global warming. Yonhap

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