I hope everyone is well and not too busy preparing for summer camp. Unfortunately, this email is once again in regards to swine flu.
This week someone from Chilgok tested positive for SI (swine influenza). This person came to downtown Daegu and took a private bus along with other people from Daegu in order to attend mud fest last weekend (7.11 - 7.12).
The DMOE is taking precautionary measures to avoid any possible contagion. So, if you attended mudfest last weekend notify your co-teacher. Your co-teacher will instruct you to stay home until the 19th of July, consider this an observation period. During this period if you have a fever accompanied by either a cough, runny nose, or sore throat call your co-teacher and ask him/her to contact your nearest public hospital and the DMOE. Resume your normal routine, most likely going to summer camp, on Monday if you are not showing any flu-like symptoms or tested negative for SI.
Needless to say this could have come from anywhere, and spread anywhere. It's also worth keeping in mind that Daegu found ten more people on Tuesday who had the flu, so the one case mentioned in the email isn't without company.
There have also been a few stories of festivalgoers developing a rash, a week after hundreds of schoolchildren also picked up a skin disease attending some pre-festival activities elsewhere in Boryeong on the 4th and the 5th. Commenter JazzyAbby wrote:
I would just like to say that i knew about the risks of getting the rash before I went and now I am suffering... My friend and I have red bite like bumps all over our feet and legs.. At first I thought this was just bites but now i am sure it's the skin rash.. Anyways... I just wanted to say that we knew about the risks before we ever went to mud fest... other than the rain and the rash we had a great time.. FYI.. I won't be going next year.. this rash SUCKS!
Jenn's Korea Experience writes:
I have a mud rash all over my legs and feet now. Its really itchy. Apparently a bunch of kids got it last week. I got some sort of cream from the pharmacy today, so hopefully that will help. I think it was worth it though. Despite the weather and the rash, we had a lot of fun.
Dave's poster mr_zoot writes:
I just came back from the first weekend of mudfest 2009 and I got the skin rash. I am white American with somewhat sensitive skin. My friend on the same trip (we did similar things and took the same mud baths) who is also American (Philipino descent) also got the same rash. The rash looks pretty similar to those pics posted earlier, only on my white skin they look more red. My friend and I both got these primarily on the lower legs.
The doctor says it is an allergic reaction to something in either the mud, the water, or maybe even a bug bite. It is not dangerous and should go away within a week.
The first night I had it though, it was seriously the itchiest thing I have ever experienced. It was maddening. I couldn't sleep that night. Now that I have medicine, it does not itch anymore.
In conclusion, the rash is real. Don't quite know exactly what caused it (one of the hundred odd mud baths, the dirty beach water or even bug bites) but you can get it if you go. However, Mudfest was so much fun I probably would have gone anyway, even if I knew it would happen again!
As I wrote in a follow-up, a couple news foreign news articles have mention the spread of a rash at the actual festival, but these articles weren't well-enough put-together to really be taken seriously. So far no local papers have reported anything, nor have any prominent foreign newspapers. I'm curious if in years past anyone has come home from the festival with a rash or an eye infection. In other years people might have figured it was bug bites, or sun burn, or just some local irritation, but this year after hearing about those schoolchildren perhaps people are quicker to associate their case with the festival and with a larger trend that may or may not be there.
And regarding the World Choir Championship Korea 2009 that was cancelled earlier in the week because of an outbreak, the Joongang Ilbo says that nearly 2,000 teachers and students who attended the events before the cancellation have been asked to stay home:
Following an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the province’s education office decided to keep 1,788 students and 249 teachers who attended the World Choir Championship Korea 2009 as contestants or audience members out of school.
The office said students have been told to stay in isolation in their respective homes under their parents’ care. They have been asked not to go to hagwon, or private education institutes. Teachers have been told not to make physical contact with others.