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S. Korea designates Zika virus as legal infectious disease

All News 17:34 January 29, 2016

SEOUL, Jan, 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea designated the Zika virus as a legal infectious disease that can pose public health problems, the government said Friday.

The health ministry said the virus has been classified as a Group IV National Infectious Disease with infected people and doctors that treat such patients required to pass on the information to authorities.

Failure to do so can lead to a fine of less than 2 million won (US$1,650).

A Group IV designation means that the country may be exposed to the virus entering the country from abroad or if a new case is discovered in the country.

The ministry said it has set up a task force to come up with countermeasures that can cope with an outbreak, and is in the process of getting advice from experts at the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases.

Zika is mostly transmitted by mosquitoes and was first discovered in Africa. It has since spread to parts of Asia and Latin America and is a serious problem in some Caribbean countries. It is related to yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and dengue, with one in five infected showing signs of fever, rashes and joint pain.

The virus, while rarely fatal, can survive in the blood stream for days, and pose problems for pregnant women.

There are currently no vaccines available, with doctors required to help patients get rest and drink lots of fluid.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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