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VIVAX MALARIA: A CONTINUING HEALTH THREAT TO THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology, Gachon Medical School, Inchon, Republic of Korea; Preventive Services Directorate, 18th Medical Command, Unit 15281, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Eighth U.S. Army Community Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Korean Armed Forces Medical Command, Kyonggi-do, Republic of Korea; Laboratory of Medical Zoology, Department of Virology, National Institute of Health, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Department of Parasitology, and Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Clinical Research Institute, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Vivax malaria reemerged in the Republic of Korea in 1993. Most of the cases occurred among soldiers in the region adjacent to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) until 1995. To determine the rate of dispersion of vivax malaria, we evaluated its epidemiologic characteristics. Of 13,903 cases of vivax malaria reported in 2000, 40.1% (5,577) were reported among Republic of Korea military personnel, 26.2% (3,641) among veterans discharged less than two years from the military, and 33.7% (4,685) among civilians. Cases of vivax malaria have rapidly increased annually among counties bordering the DMZ, and have spread to approximately 40 km south of the DMZ. Chemoprophylaxis administered to military personnel may have been responsible for the decreasing number of cases among the Republic of Korea military population. The first mosquito-transmitted cases appeared in early June. Therefore, chemoprophylaxis should be instituted in early April to reduce the number of infected mosquitoes. Extensive intervention is warranted to reduce the spread of vivax malaria in the Republic of Korea.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Myoung-Don Oh, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yongon-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Republic of Korea, Telephone: 82-2-760-2945, Fax: 82-2-762-9662, E-mail: mdohmd@snu.ac.kr
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