Bird flu in one way or another is wiping out poultry in South Korea

Following the announcement by officials in South Korea of another bird flu outbreak, 5.3 million birds are expected to be culled to control the spread of the deadly virus.

This latest outbreak in South Korea is the 17th case of bird flu in three weeks and is the country's fastest and biggest ever outbreak of avian influenza.

Officials at the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries say that the case which tested positive for the H5N1 virus, appeared on a chicken farm in Jeongeup, in North Jeolla province, four kilometers away from the area where the nation's third case of bird flu for this year was reported.

Although most of the cases had been concentrated in South and North Jeolla provinces, in South Korea's southeastern area, a recent outbreak in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers from Seoul, raised concerns that bird flu might be spreading rapidly across the country.

Since the beginning of April South Korea has culled 4.86 million chickens and ducks as the highly virulent H5N1 strain of the virus, which first appeared in the southwest, has now surfaced in five provinces.

According to the agriculture ministry all of the country's 260 duck farms will be checked as a preemptive measure and quarantines and restrictions will continue.

The military has become involved with soldiers drafted to the Jeolla province in the north which has been badly affected, to help with the culling process and the disposal of the birds.

To date South Korea has been forced to kill 5.29 million birds in its first outbreak in late 2003 and early 2004, and about half that number were culled in the second outbreak in 2006-2007.

At present, according to World Health Organisation, no human deaths from the disease have been reported in South Korea but worldwide 240 human deaths have occurred of 381 confirmed cases of infection since 2003.

The ministry has estimated that the bird flu outbreak has inflicted $30 billion in damages as millions of birds have been culled and buried and falling demand for both chicken and duck meat has also affected the poultry industry.

Posted in: Disease/Infection News

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