The Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) on Tuesday said the first case of the Zika virus was detected in South Korea from a man having travelled to Brazil.
According to the KCDC, the 43-year-old man, who had made a business trip to Brazil for 22 days, tested positive at 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday for the mosquito-borne virus, while he returned to South Korea on March 11.
KCDC director Jung Ki-Suck said that he stayed at the north eastern state of Ceara in Brazil, where he was bitten by mosquitoes.
Zika is a flavi-virus that is primarily spread by mosquito bites, but it can be transmitted through sex and blood transfusion.
Jung said that cases of sexual transmission from travelers to their sexual partners have been reported in the U.S. and Europe.
The director said that the infectee’s wife will be subject to a genetic test and epidemiological investigation for potential contagion.
Meanwhile, the man had reportedly had sexual relations with his wife after coming back home.
The first South Korean patient diagnosed with the Zika virus began developing fever and muscle ache from March 16, five days after his return to home country.
He started to show rash all over his body and suffered from severe muscle pain beginning March 19.
“The patient is now in a clinically complete recovery phase,’’ the KCDC chief said, adding that his fever subsided and the rash almost disappeared.
“The man, who lives in the south eastern port city of Gwangyang in South Jeolla province, is under the second genetic test for confirmation, while the test result would come out later in the day,’’ Jung said.
Epidemiological investigators were dispatched to the Gwangyang city for possible infection to others.
The Zika virus is believed not to be spread by ordinary touches between humans.
“But the patient will be hospitalised at a nearby hospital for the time being to make more careful medical check-up and clinical observation as he is the first detected case,’’ he stressed.
He said the country’s alert for the Zika virus would not be raised to a”crisis”level from the current “attention”level as it is not transmitted through ordinary contacts.
“Possibility, however, is always open for additional Zika cases to be discovered here.
“When considering the size of South Korea’s foreign trade, tourism industry and the number of people in and out of the country,’’the director noted.
The KCDC advised pregnant women not to travel to Zika-infected countries, while recommending fertile women delay pregnancy for at least two months after returning from those countries.
It also advised people visiting such countries to stop donating blood and use condom for two months after returning home.
The Zika virus was first found in Africa and spread to Asia and Latin America, the virus is spreading especially rapidly in Latin America, while Thailand and the Philippines are the most Zika-infected countries in Asia.
In South Korea, reports say a total of 124 potential cases have been under investigation for Zika infection and among them, only one case has tested positive. (Xinhua/NAN)