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South Korea Confirmed Second Cholera Case This Year

by YuGee / Aug 26, 2016 06:32 AM EDT
colorized scanning electron micrograph, SEM, depicted a flagellated Vibrio vulnificus bacterium

The second cholera case in South Korea this year has been confirmed on Thursday as a 79-year old woman in Geoje, South Gyeongsang. She is the second confirmed cholera case after a man announced as the first in 15 years earlier this week.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said that the woman allegedly caught the disease after consuming raw sea bass at her church on August 14. Undercooked seafood is a source of the Vibrio cholera bacterium that causes cholera.

Based on a report from the Korea JoongAng Daily, the woman had diarrhea the next day and went to a nearby hospital on August 17. After a week, the hospital concluded that she had cholera, reported the case to a local health center, and allowed local authorities to run an additional examination, which then confirmed the disease. The Health Ministry confirmed that the woman was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday after making a full recovery.

The first confirmed patient of cholera this year has also been discharged. However, health officials are not yet sure where he contracted the disease because he mentioned that he spent a day in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang, and another day in Geoje. He ate raw seafood in both places. If the first cholera patient was indeed infected in Geoje, it would mean that both patients contracted cholera in the said coastal city.

The Health Ministry said the chances of the cholera being an epidemic are "extremely low."

The Director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), Jung Ki Suk said that "human-to-human infection is not common". In a disease outbreak, the source of the contamination is mainly water or food tainted by feces of an infected person. The country's infrastructure is said to be too developed for that scenario to happen.

Gwak Soo Young, the Head of KCDC's Infectious Disease Control Center mentioned that chances of national seawater being contaminated by the virus is unlikely and also near-zero, especially because 700-800 examinations are held every year and the results have always been good. Health authorities speculate that the seafood in both incidents was handled improperly.

Jung further added, "People aren't cautious enough. At some seafood restaurants, chefs rinse their knives with seawater. Then you have all these germs, which grow over time to about 100 million bacteria. Knives should be washed with fresh water and meticulously dried under the sun."

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