South Korea battles to contain hundreds of flu infections

World | 20 Jan 2020 2:32 pm

The health authorities in South Korea are asking people to get influenza vaccinations immediately as the country is continuing to experience flu activity.

Typically, flu season peaks between December and March with the highest incidence in young children and adolescents.

The number of patients suffering from influenza in the country has more than doubled over the past month.

According to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), 49.8 out of every 1,000 outpatients who visited doctors in the first week of January had flu-like symptoms.

Among the patients, 113.2 out of every 1,000 outpatients were aged 7 to 12 years.

The KCDC said the number of flu patients has been on the rise since last November. Children between 7 and 12 years olds are especially vulnerable as many of them have not been vaccinated yet, and have more contact within their peer group.

In this year's influenza virus monitoring, the KCDC said 596 cases were detected from September 1 in 2019 to January 4 this year.

Among them, 430 cases were Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 (H1N1) and 147 were subtype H3N2 (H3N2), while only 19 or 3.2 percent were influenza B/Victoria virus.

The KCDC confirmed that the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses are not resistant to Oseltamivir-based antiviral drugs. Oseltamivir is sold under the brand name Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, used to treat and prevent influenza A and B.

"Although it takes around two weeks for the vaccination to take effect, it's never too late to get the shot for children especially under 12," Jeong Eun-kyung chief of the KCDC, said in a statement.

"Flu vaccination is the most effective way to stay healthy during winter," Jeong said.

There is a common misconception that a person who has caught flu before doesn't have to get vaccinated as they have immunity from the flu virus. Although the person has been immunized, there are possibilities of catching other types of flu because there are a large number of different viruses.

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