The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) issued its influenza monitoring results last week. These show the rate of influenza at 4.8 per 1000 people, which is above the standard rate of 4 per 1000. The influenza watch alarm was thus sounded on Jan. 17.
The rate of occurrence has rapidly increased over the last three years, and its term lasts for six to eight weeks. According to KCDC, during times of peak occurrence, people are five times more likely to contract influenza than at other times.
The influenza detection rate was 17.6 percent between Jan. 6-12, having increased dramatically from just 2.5% in the period Dec. 16-22, 2012. A total of 109 cases were detected, with strains A/H1N1pdm09, A/H3N2 and B type accounting for 63, 43 and three cases, respectively.
The regions of Incheon, Gwangju, Gangwon and Seoul show higher rates than elsewhere and the most at-risk age group is 20 to 49 years of age, having an infection rate 26.2 percent higher than any other group. Children aged under seven ranked as the second most at-risk group, with an infection rate 24.3 percent higher than others. Over 65s are the least affected group, with only a 5.7 percent infection rate.
To guard against infection, KCDC recommends prior vaccination, especially for people over 50 years of age, the chronically ill, 6-to-59-month-old children and pregnant women. These groups have a high risk of pneumonia and other complications.
Influenza can be easily transferred by coughing, nasal secretion and other means. KCDC recommends individuals regularly wash their hands and cover their mouths when coughing, in addition to following standard hygiene practices.
The most common virus found in Korea is A/H1N1, compared to A/H3N2 found in China and the USA. KCDC is urging caution among overseas travelers, and proposing the tightening of flu screening by heat detectors at airports. Travelers are recommended to check local disease information on destination countries and having vaccinations before traveling abroad.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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