Noh et al.
Seroepidemiologic survey of emerging vector-borne infections in South Korea forest/field workers
PloS Negl Trop Dis. 2021; 15 (8): e0009687. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009687

In South Korea, no TBE case has so far been reported in humans, although the virus has been detected in ticks and wild rodents. Recently, a seroprevalence study, carried out with IgM- and IgG-ELISA, indicate a low prevalence of TBE antibodies in humans (see Snapshot week 14/2020).

Now, a serologic survey has been conducted in South Korea in forest and field workers, using TBE-IgG ELISA followed by neutralization confirmation assay of positive test results.

Among 583 forest or field workers with a median career duration of 10 years and a median age of 56 years, seroprevalence of TBE IgG was 0.9% (5/583). NT showed positive rates of 0.3% (2/583) – one individuum from the island of Jeju (where TBE virus has already been detected) and one from Hongcheon (in the northern region of South Korea).

These results indicate that TBE cases may have been overlooked in South Korea due to low awareness of this disease and limited availability of diagnostic tools.

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