KCDC warns outdoor enthusiasts to take care

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KCDC warns outdoor enthusiasts to take care

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) published a report on its website Friday warning people engaging in outdoor activities to take precautions against tick- or rat-borne diseases such as Orientia tsutsugamushi, leptospirosis and hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS).

The report follows a series of deaths caused by tick-infected diseases earlier in the month, including one involving a 79-year-old woman who died from Orientia tsutsugamushi after coming into contact with a tick while farming.

According to the KCDC report, 90 percent of such cases, caused by bites from infected hairy tick larvae, occur during autumn. Rat-borne diseases like leptospirosis and HFRS also occur most frequently during autumn, with 65 percent of leptospirosis cases occurring between September and November and 60 percent of HFRS cases occurring between October and December.

One factor that contributes to this phenomenon is the tendency of many Koreans to take advantage of the short period of pleasant weather they get between summer and winter months to visit fields and mountains. But lying or sitting down directly on grass without long sleeves could be dangerous, as it exposes one to infected ticks, rat urine and rat feces, which can lead to these diseases.

Symptoms of the three infectious diseases include high fever, muscle pain and headache. But even if symptoms do not present, people can still die of infection if they go untreated.

In its report, the KCDC also advised people who are planning to go engage in outdoor activities to wear long sleeves, avoid stagnant water and bring mats to sit on.

It also advised people to visit a doctor if they experience high fever or headaches after being outdoors, and not to dismiss these symptoms as signs of a common cold.

BY JEONG JONG-HOON [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]

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