Suspected bird flu in South Korea

23-11-2006 | |

A suspected case of bird flu has been discovered at a poultry farm in the south west of South Korea, potentially marking the country’s first case in around three years, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.

The death of 6,000 chickens at a farm in North Cholla province has prompted the suspicion. An official of the agriculture ministry said the remaining 6,000 chickens on the farm would be culled.
“This case appears quite likely to involve highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Kim Chang-sub, a top official at the ministry’s quarantine department.
“The final results of our testing should be known on November 25,” Kim said. He would not speculate as to whether it was the H5N1 strain, which is potentially deadly to human beings.
The ministry said that the farm in question lies on a migratory path for birds heading south for the winter.
Kim said Seoul would strengthen preventative measures, which include keeping farm poultry indoors during the migration season and checking wild bird flocks for signs of avian influenza.
About 400,000 poultry at South Korean farms were infected by bird flu between December 2003 and March 2004.
During that outbreak, the country culled 5.3 million birds and spent about 1.5 trillion won ($1.6 billion) to prevent the disease spreading, officials said.
According to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, avian influenza has infected 258 humans, resulting in 153 deaths.