Infections of dengue fever were confirmed in six patients after visiting Colombo, Sri Lanka in December for volunteer work. This marks Korea's first confirmed case of group infection of the virus, Korean health authorities said Thursday.
According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) and Keimyung University, the eight ― five students, two school staffers and one professor ― were among the 35 volunteers who visited the Southeast Asian country from Dec. 23 to 31.
Two others are waiting for final test results from the Korea National Institute of Health, but the chance of infection is highly likely as they were tested positive in an initial test.
The government is monitoring the remaining 27 for possible infection but they have not shown symptoms of the disease. The KCDC suspects that the eight were infected after being bitten by mosquitoes while staying at an elementary school there for volunteer work.
The eight initially suffered from high fever and headache, but most of them have recovered and are expected to be released from the hospital soon, the KCDC said.
Dengue fever, a tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, is transmitted by mosquito, and not by human-to-human contraction. Korea has more than 100 dengue fever cases every year, but patients only contract it abroad with no cases of the disease spreading within Korea, Korean local media reports.