Officials issue warning over measles cases

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Officials issue warning over measles cases

Korean health authorities yesterday issued a warning for citizens to be on alert about possible measles outbreaks after about four dozen people contracted infections while traveling in Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of Friday, 56 people had contracted the virus. Of those, 48 patients, or 86 percent, were infected following trips abroad. The figure is more than five times that of the previous month. The monthly number of measles infections has stood at around 10 in recent months.

The source of the measles infection for the remaining eight patients is still under examination.

Following the increase in the number of patients contracting the disease from abroad, the Ministry of Health and Welfare urged those planning to travel to Southeast Asia to get vaccinated and take proper preventive measures before visiting endemic countries.

“In Korea, we have maintained a high level of measles vaccination, at over 95 percent, so there is a fairly low chance of being infected while abroad, but it can be contracted by a small number of people with lower immunity,” said Park Ok, a disease prevention and vaccination official from the Health Ministry.

“While measles is quite contagious, it can be easily prevented by receiving two doses of the MRR vaccine and taking preventive measures before traveling,” he added.

The Korean health authority recommends travelers wash their hands frequently, maintain personal hygiene, take precautions to avoid contact with contaminated persons and report to local health authorities immediately if symptoms occur.

The MRR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella and is one of the recommended childhood vaccines. Children are recommended to receive their first immunization at 12 to 15 months old. The second dose is usually administered from 4 to 6 years old.

Following the implementation of the national measles elimination program, Korea declared in 2006 that measles had been eradicated nationwide.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]



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