Experts are raising concerns that the Korean government’s epidemic prevention system might have been ineffective, as fears over the measles outbreak are spreading across the country.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) is not disclosing epidemiological investigation data, making it more difficult to identify the exact cause of the outbreak, they said.
KCDC said the measles virus is believed to have come from abroad and the contagious disease appeared sporadically.
However, a professor at the infectious disease department at a university hospital in the Seoul metropolitan area told Korea Biomedical Review that “the outbreak was too sporadic to agree with the KCDC.
“I think the virus came from abroad because both of virus type D8 and type B3 are spreading simultaneously,” the professor who wished to be unnamed said. “I cannot pinpoint the exact problem, but I’m worried that the authorities might have missed a transmission route.”
He noted that even if the virus entered Korea from abroad, it was not normal to have measles infections in various areas simultaneously.
The professor said it was difficult to learn about the cause of the spread of the virus because KCDC did not disclose the result of the epidemiological investigation.
“To find the specific cause, we need to know the transmission routes of the patients and genotypes. However, I can’t receive the information. I don’t know why KCDC doesn’t disclose it,” the professor said.
KCDC gave him the information about which cases of measles had to be registered and which had to be not registered only, he added.
To prevent the further spread of the disease, the health authorities should find people who contacted infected patients as soon as possible to treat them, the professor said. Also, those at high risk of infection need to get vaccinated, he added.
According to the KCDC, 30 people have been infected with measles as of Monday 10 a.m., since the first case was reported in Daegu in December.
Measles was reported in five cities or provinces. Of the 30 cases, 27 broke in a group, and the rest three, individually.
The measles cases reported in Daegu and Gyeonggi Province (Ansan and Siheung) showed different genotypes and lacked epidemiological association. Officials assume that the viruses came in Korea from abroad in different routes.
The genotype of the measles strain in Daegu was B3, which is also being reported in Southeast Asia including the Philippines. The one in Gyeonggi was D8.
The other three patients showed measles symptoms after traveling to Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, respectively. The KCDC is investigating whom they contacted and taking measures to block the infection from spreading further into the community.
By age, 15 patients are under four years old, nine are in their 20s, and six are in their 30s. The patients of the three individual cases who had overseas travel are all in their 30s.
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