Chikungunya (CHIK) has been classified as a communicable disease group IV in South Korea since late 2010. Based on this, we investigated the extent of imported cases of CHIK in dengue-suspected individuals returning from dengue-endemic regions.
A total of 486 dengue-suspected serum samples were screened for CHIK by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis. Further RT-PCR-positive samples were used for the viral culture, and CHIK was subsequently confirmed by sequence analysis of the culture samples.
Five out of 107 dengue-positive samples were found to be positive for CHIK and 15 out of 379 dengue-negative samples were found to be positive for CHIK by immunoglobulin M ELISA. Further, a CHIK virus was isolated from one of the two RT-PCR-positive sera by cell culture and confirmed by sequence analysis.
The present study documents the first evidence of travel-associated CHIK infection in South Korea. Considering the intense international traffic between countries, our finding emphasizes the urgent need for active patient and vector surveillance for timely response to reduce the introduction of CHIK in Korea.
Keywords: chikungunya, dengue, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction