The most dangerous infectious disease in Korea, according to the UK Health and Safety Agency, is ‘this’

On the 27th of last month (local time), the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) published a list of potential High Consequence Infectious Diseases (HCID) that could occur in each country. Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) was identified as a possible HCID in Korea.

Ticks are the main carrier of the SFTS virus|Source: Getty Image Bank

The UK Health and Safety Agency has been monitoring pathogens that occur in all countries to prevent a second infectious disease from spreading immediately after the Corona 19 pandemic. Looking at this list released by UKHSA, the HCIDs in the US States were bird flu A, H5N1 and Plague, and the HCIDs in the Central African Republic were Ebola and Mpox (monkey pox before the name of the disease was revised).

Beware of ticks, the main vectors of viruses
Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an infectious disease that occurs from April to November when the days become warmer. In Korea, after the first infection was reported in 2013, a total of 1,510 patients occurred by 2021, of which 279 died. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) defines SFTS as a third class statutory infectious disease and requires reporting within 24 hours of illness.

The most common route of infection is being bitten by a tick carrying the SFTS virus during outdoor activities, and the virus enters the body and becomes infected. In addition, there are some cases where medical staff treating SFTS patients are presumed to be infected through direct contact with the patient’s blood or body fluids, so care must be taken when coming into contact with patients. In fact, in August 2022, five medical staff members working in the emergency intensive care unit at Kyungpook National University Hospital were exposed to the patient’s bodily fluids while treating an SFTS patient and were infected together with a virus SFTS.

According to the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several species of ticks that can be the main carriers of the SFTS virus, such as the ‘little sophie tick’, ‘gapi tick’, ‘Japanese tick’, and ‘Cam tick’ ‘. The dominant domestic species is the little sophie tick. Ticks become active in the spring when the temperature rises, and the population increases rapidly in September. Therefore, currently, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the number of ticks. Of course, being bitten by a tick does not necessarily mean you will be infected with the SFTS virus. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, “Fortunately, only a few of the ticks living in Korea have the SFTS virus,” and “If you are bitten by a tick during outdoor activities, you do not have to you worry too much. about being infected with the SFTS virus. However, always be careful.

When the SFTS virus enters the body, symptoms such as high fever of 38 degrees or higher, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain of unknown cause appear after an incubation period of 6 to 14 days. It can be accompanied by symptoms such as headache, muscle pain, and swollen lymph nodes, and 1 in 4 patients experience disturbances of consciousness and convulsions. If severe, bleeding and multiple organ failure occur, leading to death. The domestic mortality rate of SFTS is approximately 18.5%.

There is no vaccine or cure, so prevention is best
The biggest problem with SFTS is that there is no vaccine or treatment yet. Therefore, prevention is best. During outdoor activities from April to November, wear protective clothing such as long clothing, long socks, and hats, and use tick repellents. When taking a break in the grass, you should use a mat rather than sitting on the ground, and you should not leave your clothes on the grass. After returning home, you should wash your clothes and wash your body thoroughly.

In addition, once the tick attaches to the human body, it is firmly fixed on the skin and sucks blood for 3 to 7 days, so it is necessary to check whether the tick is attached to the body or there is a wound of the body. insect bite. If you find a tick attached to your skin, never try to remove it by hand. If you pull it out by hand forcefully, there is a risk that part of the tick, such as the head, will remain on the skin. Therefore, it is desirable to use a tweezer and disinfectant, or visit a nearby hospital to remove it.

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