North Korea reports outbreak of unidentified disease alongside COVID-19

South Korean officials have said that the disease, only referred to be North Korea as an "acute enteric epidemic" is likely to be either cholera or typhoid.

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a politburo meeting of the Worker's Party on the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 21, 2022.  (photo credit: KCNA VIA REUTERS)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a politburo meeting of the Worker's Party on the country's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 21, 2022.
(photo credit: KCNA VIA REUTERS)

North Korea has dispatched medical crews and epidemiological investigators to a province battling the outbreak of an intestinal disease, state media reported on Sunday.

At least 800 families suffering from what North Korea has only called an "acute enteric epidemic" have received aid in South Hwanghae Province so far.

Enteric refers to the gastrointestinal tract and South Korean officials say it may be cholera or typhoid.

The new outbreak, first reported on Thursday, puts further strain on the isolated country as it battles chronic food shortages and a wave of COVID-19 infections.

On Sunday state news agency KCNA detailed prevention efforts, including quarantines, "intensive screening for all residents," and special treatment and monitoring of vulnerable people such as children and the elderly.

 Members of the North Korean army supply medicines to residents at a pharmacy, amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on May 18, 2022. (credit: KYODO/VIA REUTERS) Members of the North Korean army supply medicines to residents at a pharmacy, amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo on May 18, 2022. (credit: KYODO/VIA REUTERS)

A national "Rapid Diagnosis and Treatment Team" is working with local health officials, and measures are being taken to ensure that farming is not disrupted in the key agricultural area, KCNA said.

Disinfection work is being carried out, including of sewage and other waste, to ensure the safety of drinking and household water, the report said.