An outbreak of cases of flu is ravaging the Korean Peninsula less than two weeks before the opening ceremony for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
North Korea is faced with treating over 81,000 people, who have contracted the Swine flu/ H1N1, while their neighbors, South Korea, is grappling with avian influenza/H5N1 outbreak forcing authorities to order the mass killing of one million infected chickens.
The bird flu was discovered, on Saturday, in chickens at two farms in Gyeonggi, south of Seoul, South Korea.
“The avian influenza virus we discovered at Hwaseong is highly pathogenic and spreads very fast,” an agricultural ministry spokesperson said. “It reproduces continuously before symptoms appear in the hosts or before they die.”
The bird flu scare prompted officials to quarantine all poultry farm workers and ban its sale in markets across the city.
North Korea, on the other hand, have made requests for Swine flu vaccines for high-risk individuals, according to Yonhap News Agency. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that about 127,000 North Koreans had experienced flu-like illness between Dec. 1 and Jan. 16.
WHO has supplied the Hermit Kingdom in the North with 5,000 tablets to stem the outbreak.
“The outbreak of influenza has been wide-spread in the country for more than a period of one month hence deployment of seasonal influenza vaccines to prevent the outbreak has a very limited role,” the organization said.
“Therefore proper case management with a view to preventing complications and mortality remains to be the priority action for this event. Identification of cases of influenza-like illness at the early stage with a focus on severe cases and high-risk groups and their referral to hospitals for optimal management inclusive of administration of antiviral drugs is important.
“In view of ongoing severe winter, health workers dealing with influenza-like illness patients may be vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccines for keeping health services functional and access to oseltamivir if they contact the infection needs to be ensured.”
Three children and one adult have died from the Swine flu, WHO reported.
Health officials said the extremity of the cold weather, which began in Dec., is a major contributing factor to the increase in the flu cases.