Journal Article Infectious disease risks among refugees from North Korea

Nishiura, Hiroshi  ,  Lee, Hyojung  ,  Yuan, Baoyin  ,  Endo, Akira  ,  Akhmetzhanov, Andrei R.  ,  Chowell, Gerardo

Objectives: The characteristics of disease in North Korea, including severe malnutrition and infectious disease risks, have not been openly and widely analyzed. This study was performed to estimate the risks of infectious diseases among refugees from North Korea. Methods: A literature review of clinical studies among North Korean defectors was conducted to statistically estimate the risks of infectious diseases among North Korean subjects. Results: A total of six groups of data from five publications covering the years 2004 to 2014 were identified. Tuberculosis and viral hepatitis appeared to be the two most common infectious diseases, especially among adult refugees. When comparing the risks of infectious diseases between North Korean and Syrian refugees, it is critical to remember that Plasmodium vivax malaria has been endemic in North Korea, while cutaneous leishmaniasis has frequently been seen among Syrian migrants. Conclusions: Valuable datasets from health surveys of defectors were reviewed. In addition to tuberculosis and viral hepatitis, which were found to be the two most common infectious diseases, a special characteristic of North Korean defectors was Plasmodium vivax malaria. This needs to be added to the list of differential diagnoses for pyretic patients.

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