DMZ mosquitoes spreading malaria

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DMZ mosquitoes spreading malaria

Mosquitoes from the demilitarized zone are crossing into South Korea and spreading malaria to populations on the southern side. The reason: due to the chill in inter-Korean relations, yearly spraying on the Northern side has been halted.

According to the 2nd Provincial Office of Gyeonggi Province and the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday, there have been a total of 286 malaria patients in the province this year as of yesterday, a 27.7 percent increase compared to last year.

Most patients were found in Paju, Yeoncheon and Goyang, all near the demilitarized zone.

The government explained that the rise is due to poor preventive measures against disease-carrying mosquitoes on the northern side. In years past, the South and North agreed to spray insecticides during the summer season.

But because of tense relations between the two countries after the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March, the North hasn't been doing its part.

As the number of malaria patients started to increase in May, the provincial office requested to the North in early July to participate in joint spraying. There was no response.

The provincial office had budgeted 3.2 billion won for malaria spraying this year, and it has been used for the spraying and for medicine for people infected.

The malaria parasite is plasmodium vivax, which is carried by the female Anopheles mosquito. That strain is less virulent than others and seldom kills but can result in severe fever and other cold-like symptoms.


By Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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