Biological Hazard – Asia – South Korea

EDIS Number: BH-20120314-34512-KOR
Date / time: 14/03/2012 04:02:21 [UTC]
Event: Biological Hazard
Area: Asia
Country: South Korea
State/County: Jeju Island
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: N/A
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A


A new strain of epidemic hemorrhagic fever has been found on Jeju Island, the first time that the infectious disease has broken out on a Korean island. A team of researchers led by Song Jin-won, a microbiology professor at the College of Medicine of Korea University in Seoul, said Tuesday that a new strain of hantavirus that causes epidemic hemorrhagic fever was found in Jeju. The team caught 51 "lesser white-toothed shrews" in the province and examined their liver and lung tissue from October 2006 through September 2010. Through genetic analyses, the researchers found viruses belonging to the hantavirus genus from eight mice. The new virus was named the “Jeju” virus." Also discovered the “Imjin” virus, a kind of hantavirus from "Manchurian musk-shrews" living in the Imjin River near the inter-Korean border in 2009. The Jeju virus is a new variety. These viruses live in the bodies of field mice such as lesser white-toothed shrews and black-striped field mice, come out through excrement, and float in the air. Humans develop epidemic hemorrhagic fever by inhaling them. The first patient of the disease in Jeju surfaced in November last year, and the research team will identify if he or she was infected with the Jeju virus. With around 500 Koreans developing the condition every year and the fatality rate reaching 5 percent, the disease has been designated a third-degree epidemic.

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