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Measles epidemic hits North Korea

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User ID: 198186
02/19/2007 10:55 PM
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Measles epidemic hits North Korea
A MEASLES epidemic has hit North Korea, causing at least four deaths and infecting some 3000 people.

Measles has been found in 30 North Korean counties since the outbreak started in November, the Red Cross said.

"The continued presence of the measles is accompanied by a risk of increasing cases and the further spread of the illness to other parts of the country," it said.

North Korean health authorities notified the Red Cross, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international bodies of the outbreak last week and the impoverished state requested five million doses of measles vaccine.

Reclusive North Korea allows some UN agencies to operate within its borders.

In November, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said North Korea could be facing a scarlet fever pandemic.

Measles remains a leading cause of death among young children in the region, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for the past 40 years.

The WHO estimated 345,000 people, the majority of them children, died from measles worldwide in 2005.

Almost all the deaths occurred in developing countries.

[link to www.news.com.au]