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Scarlet fever spreading in N. Korea despite quarantine efforts.

SEOUL, Nov. 15 Kyodo

Scarlet fever has been spreading fast in North Korea for nearly a month and is showing signs of becoming a full-blown pandemic despite efforts by North Korean authorities to contain the disease, Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday.

''According to people who recently traveled to North Korea, the spread of scarlet fever, which first broke out around Oct. 20 near the Hyesan and Paekam areas in Yanggang Province, is showing no signs of slowing down and has spread as far as Pyongan and Kangwon provinces after affecting nearby Hamkyong and Jagang provinces,'' Yonhap quoted a source close to North Korea as saying.

Scarlet fever is categorized a third-class communicable disease in South Korea, but health quarantine officials here say it can be just as deadly as any first-class disease, such as cholera and typhoid, Yonhap said.

The disease is characterized by a sore throat, fever, a sandpaper-like rash on reddened skin, and if left untreated, it can cause serious complications, including rheumatic fever, according to a related website.

The source said the rapid spread of the fever in North Korea is attributable to the weakened immune systems of most North Koreans and to lack of medicine such as antibiotics, according to Yonhap.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Nov 20, 2006
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