CDC issues advisory for Japanese encephalitis

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CDC issues advisory for Japanese encephalitis

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a “watch” alert on Sunday, as the main carrier for Japanese encephalitis, the Culex mosquito, was found in South Gyeongsang and Jeju for the first time this year.

The CDC issues annual advisories when Culex mosquitoes are found, as well as warnings for Japanese encephalitis once patients become infected with the disease or the density of Culex mosquitoes reaches a certain level.

This is the earliest issuance of such a “watch” in the past 10 years, coming five days earlier than last year’s April 8.

“As temperatures rose last week, mosquitoes went into action, awakening from winter hibernation inside stacks of straw or wood,” said Joo Young-ran, a researcher at the CDC.

Japanese encephalitis can be transmitted to humans by Culex mosquitoes that have fed on infected pigs.

Although 95 percent of people bitten experience only mild symptoms or none at all, infection can develop into encephalitis, causing fever, headaches, muscle cramping, intellectual disability and potential death.

Officials at the CDC recommend people doing outdoor activities between April and October, when Culex mosquitoes are most active, to wear long-sleeved, brightly-colored clothing.

Mosquito repellents and mosquito nets are also recommended. Vaccination is recommended for children between ages 1 and 12.

JUNG JONG-HOON [enational@joongang.co.kr]
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