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Brief Report
Genomic Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2: Distribution of Clades in the Republic of Korea in 2020
Ae Kyung Park, Il-Hwan Kim, Junyoung Kim, Jeong-Min Kim, Heui Man Kim, Chae young Lee, Myung-Guk Han, Gi-Eun Rhie, Donghyok Kwon, Jeong-Gu Nam, Young-Joon Park, Jin Gwack, Nam-Joo Lee, SangHee Woo, Jin Sun No, Jaehee Lee, Jeemin Ha, JeeEun Rhee, Cheon-Kwon Yoo, Eun-Jin Kim
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2021;12(1):37-43.   Published online February 23, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.12.1.06
  • 3,999 View
  • 168 Download
  • 12 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

Since a novel beta-coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first reported in December 2019, there has been a rapid global spread of the virus. Genomic surveillance was conducted on samples isolated from infected individuals to monitor the spread of genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 in Korea. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency performed whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in Korea for 1 year (January 2020 to January 2021). A total of 2,488 SARS-CoV-2 cases were sequenced (including 648 cases from abroad). Initially, the prevalent clades of SARS-CoV-2 were the S and V clades, however, by March 2020, GH clade was the most dominant. Only international travelers were identified as having G or GR clades, and since the first variant 501Y.V1 was identified (from a traveler from the United Kingdom on December 22nd, 2020), a total of 27 variants of 501Y.V1, 501Y.V2, and 484K.V2 have been classified (as of January 25th, 2021). The results in this study indicated that quarantining of travelers entering Korea successfully prevented dissemination of the SARS-CoV-2 variants in Korea.

Short Communication
Detection of Novel Coronavirus on the Surface of Environmental Materials Contaminated by COVID-19 Patients in the Republic of Korea
Sang-Eun Lee, Deog-Yong Lee, Wook-Gyo Lee, ByeongHak Kang, Yoon Suk Jang, Boyeong Ryu, SeungJae Lee, Hyunjung Bahk, Eungyu Lee
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(3):128-132.   Published online May 8, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.3.03
  • 5,947 View
  • 261 Download
  • 18 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

This study aimed to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces frequently touched by COVID-19 patients, and assess the scope of contamination and transmissibility in facilities where the outbreaks occurred. In the course of this epidemiological investigation, a total of 80 environmental specimens were collected from 6 hospitals (68 specimens) and 2 “mass facilities” (6 specimens from a rehabilitation center and 6 specimens from an apartment building complex). Specific reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction targeting of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and envelope genes, were used to identify the presence of this novel coronavirus. The 68 specimens from 6 hospitals (A, B, C, D, E, and G), where prior disinfection/cleaning had been performed before environmental sampling, tested negative for SARS-CoV-2. However, 2 out of 12 specimens (16.7%) from 2 “mass facilities” (F and H), where prior disinfection/cleaning had not taken place, were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA polymerase, and envelope genes. These results suggest that prompt disinfection and cleaning of potentially contaminated surfaces is an effective infection control measure. By inactivating SARS-CoV-2 with disinfection/cleaning the infectivity and transmission of the virus is blocked. This investigation of environmental sampling may help in the understanding of risk assessment of the COVID-19 outbreak in “mass facilities” and provide guidance in using effective disinfectants on contaminated surfaces.

Original Articles
Army Soldiers’ Knowledge of, Attitude Towards, and Preventive Behavior Towards Tuberculosis in Korea
Yun Choi, Geum Hee Jeong
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2018;9(5):269-277.   Published online October 31, 2018
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2018.9.5.09
  • 3,085 View
  • 136 Download
  • 3 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

The aim of this study was to gather information about Korean Army soldiers’ attitude towards tuberculosis to enable the development of an informed educational program and potential intervention plans.

Methods

There were 500 male soldiers serving in the Korean Army who responded to questionnaires regarding knowledge of, attitudes towards, and preventive behavior towards tuberculosis. The questionnaires were collected between September 10 until October 1, 2014. Participants’ characteristic that influenced differences in knowledge, attitudes, and preventive behavior towards tuberculosis were compared by t test. Variables that influenced preventive behavior were identified by multiple regression analysis.

Results

The mean scores assessing knowledge of, attitude, and preventive behavior towards tuberculosis were 11.64 (± 4.03) out of 20 points, 3.21 (± 0.38) out of 4 points, and 2.88 (± 0.42) out of 4 points, respectively. Non-smokers were more knowledgeable about tuberculosis than smokers. Participants who had family or friends with tuberculosis had better knowledge and a more productive attitude to tuberculosis. Participants who were educated or obtained information about tuberculosis, received better scores in all areas of knowledge, attitude and preventive behavior compared to other participants. Non-smoking, family or friends who have had tuberculosis, obtaining information about tuberculosis, and positive attitudes towards treatment and preventive education had an explanatory power of 24.6% with regard to preventive behavior against tuberculosis.

Conclusion

More relatable, systemized education should be provided regularly to improve soldiers’ knowledge of, attitudes towards, and prevention against tuberculosis in the Republic of Korea Army.

Estimating the Incidence of Cases and Deaths Resulting from Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and Its Related Socioeconomic Disease Burden in Republic of Korea (2010 – 2014)
Donghee Seo
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2018;9(3):112-117.   Published online June 30, 2018
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2018.9.3.05
  • 2,595 View
  • 59 Download
  • 5 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects young children and frequently causes epidemics. A vaccine is available in China (enterovirus 71) and, the Republic of Korea took the first step to develop a new vaccine. New vaccine development requires that disease burden is calculated in advance so the financial cost, morbidity and mortality can be measured.

Methods

Data from National Sentinel Surveillance and health insurance systems of 1 million claimants were used. Direct medical and non-medical costs, indirect (caregiving and premature death) costs, cases and related deaths were summarized.

Results

From 2010 to 2014, there were an estimated 3,605 to 9,271 cases of HFMD, with 1 to 3 deaths. The estimated socioeconomic disease burden ranged from 80.5 to 164.2 million USD and was similar to that of hepatitis A (93.6–103.8 million USD). Among each costs, costs of caregiving consisted of highest proportion mainly due to hiring caregivers (50% – 60%) or opportunity costs from day off (62% – 69%).

Conclusion

Considering the social impact of HFMD, the estimated socioeconomic disease burden is not high and government policies need to focus on reducing the loss of work in caregivers.

A Retrospective Mid- and Long-term Follow-up Study on the Changes in Hematologic Parameters in the Highly Exposed Residents of the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill in Taean, South Korea
Young-Hyun Choi, Jee-Young Hong, Moo-Sik Lee
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2017;8(5):358-366.   Published online October 31, 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2017.8.5.10
  • 2,273 View
  • 22 Download
  • 5 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

This study aimed to analyze changes in hematologic parameters in the residents of the areas highly contaminated by the Hebei Spirit Oil Spill in 2007 and those who participated in the clean-up activities.

Methods

According to demographic characteristics, health status and behavior, and level of exposure to oil, we compared the hematologic results in 2009 and 2012 among 701 residents. The hematologic parameters were composed of white blood cell (WBC) count, and levels of hemoglobin, hematocrit (Hct), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine (Cr), total cholesterol (T-chol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglyceride (TG).

Results

Paired t-test revealed that the WBC count and levels of Hct, AST, ALT, glucose, and HbA1c significantly increased, whereas the BUN, Cr, HDL, and TG levels significantly decreased. Multiple linear regression modelling showed a relationship between the level of exposure to oil and temporal changes in Hct, glucose, HbA1c, and BUN levels.

Conclusion

Our results suggest a relationship between level of exposure to oil and changes in hematologic parameters over 3 years. Further studies should be conducted to determine the impact of oil spill on health such as the occurrence of diseases.

H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the Republic of Korea: Epidemiology During the First Wave, from January Through July 2014
Hachung Yoon, Oun-Kyong Moon, Wooseog Jeong, Jida Choi, Young-Myong Kang, Hyo-Young Ahn, Jee-Hye Kim, Dae-Sung Yoo, Young-Jin Kwon, Woo-Seok Chang, Myeong-Soo Kim, Do-Soon Kim, Yong-Sang Kim, Yi-Seok Joo
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2015;6(2):106-111.   Published online April 30, 2015
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2015.01.005
  • 1,660 View
  • 24 Download
  • 12 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
This study describes the outbreaks of H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Korea during the first wave, from January 16, 2014 through July 25, 2014. Its purpose is to provide a better understanding of the epidemiology of H5N8 HPAI.
Methods
Information on the outbreak farms and HPAI positive wild birds was provided by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency. The epidemiological investigation sheets for the outbreak farms were examined.
Results
During the 7-month outbreak period (January–July 2014), H5N8 HPAI was confirmed in 212 poultry farms, 38 specimens from wild birds (stools, birds found dead or captured). Ducks were the most frequently infected poultry species (159 outbreak farms, 75.0%), and poultry in 67 (31.6%) outbreak farms was asymptomatic.
Conclusion
As in the previous four H5N1 epidemics of HPAI that occurred in Korea, this epidemic of H5N8 proved to be associated with migratory birds. Poultry farms in Korea can hardly be free from the risk of HPAI introduced via migratory birds. The best way to overcome this geographical factor is to reinforce biosecurity to prevent exposure of farms, related people, and poultry to the pathogen.
Assessment of Intensive Vaccination and Antiviral Treatment in 2009 Influenza Pandemic in Korea
Chaeshin Chu, Sunmi Lee
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2015;6(1):47-51.   Published online February 28, 2015
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2014.11.007
  • 1,486 View
  • 15 Download
  • 2 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
We characterized and assessed public health measures, including intensive vaccination and antiviral treatment, implemented during the 2009 influenza pandemic in the Republic of Korea.
Methods
A mathematical model for the 2009 influenza pandemic is formulated. The transmission rate, the vaccination rate, the antiviral treatment rate, and the hospitalized rate are estimated using the least-squares method for the 2009 data of the incidence curves of the infected, vaccinated, treated, and hospitalized.
Results
The cumulative number of infected cases has reduced significantly following the implementation of the intensive vaccination and antiviral treatment. In particular, the intensive vaccination was the most critical factor that prevented severe outbreak.
Conclusion
We have found that the total infected proportion would increase by approximately six times under the half of vaccination rates.
Assessment of the Intensive Countermeasures in the 2009 Pandemic Influenza in Korea
Jin Hyuk Choi, Yunhwan Kim, Seoyun Choe, Sunmi Lee
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2014;5(2):101-107.   Published online April 30, 2014
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2014.03.003
  • 1,539 View
  • 16 Download
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
It is critical to implement effective multiple countermeasures to mitigate or retain the spread of pandemic influenza. We propose a mathematical pandemic influenza model to assess the effectiveness of multiple countermeasures implemented in 2009.
Methods
Age-specific parameters, including the transmission rate, the proportion of asymptomatic individuals, the vaccination rate, the social distancing rate, and the antiviral treatment rate are estimated using the least-square method calibrated to the incidence data.
Results
The multiple interventions (intensive vaccination, social distancing, antivrial treatment) were successfully implemented resulting in the dramatic reduction in the total number of incidence.
Conclusion
The model output is sensitive to age-specific parameters and this leads to the fact that a more elaborate age group model should be developed and extensive further studies must be followed.
Articles
Prevalence of Tick-Borne Encephalitis Virus in Ixodid Ticks Collected from the Republic of Korea During 2011–2012
Seok-Min Yun, Bong Gu Song, WooYoung Choi, Won Il Park, Sung Yun Kim, Jong Yul Roh, Jungsang Ryou, Young Ran Ju, Chan Park, E-Hyun Shin
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2012;3(4):213-221.   Published online December 31, 2012
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2012.10.004
  • 1,820 View
  • 24 Download
  • 25 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
In this study, we demonstrated that TBEV-infected ticks have been distributed in the ROK, combined with our previous results. These results suggest that TBEV may exist in the ROK, and H. longicornis, H. flava, and I. nipponensis may be potential vectors of TBEV. In addition, these results emphasize the need for further epidemiological research of TBEV.
Methods
We examined for the presence of RNA of TBEV by reverse transcriptase-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nested PCR) using ixodid ticks captured in 25 localities of 10 provinces. Ticks were collected by the flagging and dragging method or using sentinel BG traps at forests, grass thickets, and grassland. A total of 13,053 ticks belonging to two genera and four species were collected and pooled (1292 pools), according to collection site, species of tick, and developmental stage.
Results
Among 1292 pools, the envelope (E) protein gene of TBEV was detected using RT-nested PCR in 10 pools (3 pools of the 1,331 adult ticks and 7 pools of the 11,169 nymph ticks) collected from Gangwon-do province, Jeonrabuk-do province, and Jeju Island. The minimum infection rates for TBEV of Haemaphysalis longicornis, Haemaphysalis flava, and Ixodes nipponensis were 0.06%, 0.17%, and 2.38%, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis based on the partial E protein gene was performed to identify relationships between the TBEV strains. This showed that 10 Korean strains clustered with the Western subtype.
Conclusion
In this study, we investigated the prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in ixodid ticks from various regions of the Republic of Korea (ROK) during 2011–2012 to identify whether TBEV is circulating and to determine the endemic regions of TBEV.

PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives