The bird flu has reappeared, according to preliminary tests, in a remote chicken farm in the southwestern part of the country.
The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service ran tests at the farm yesterday in Gimje, North Jeolla, about 242 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Seoul. The agency confirmed that chickens there carried the avian influenza virus.
Another test is needed to confirm the outbreak, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced yesterday in a press release.
Chickens at the Gimje farm began to die on March 29, but the owner did not report the outbreak to quarantine authorities until Tuesday. The owner, whose name wasn’t released by the ministry, breeds about 150,000 of the birds. Authorities have killed a total of 2,380 chickens at the farm to try to contain a possible outbreak.
The ministry said it will reveal the results of further tests by tomorrow. If the avian influenza virus is confirmed to be a highly contagious strain, the government body will immediately take preventive measures: culling all chickens, destroying all the eggs at the farm and disinfecting the nearby area within a 500 meter (1,640 feet) radius, said Kim Yong-sang, an official of the ministry.
Korea reported seven cases of bird flu between November 2006 and March 2007, leading to the culling of nearly 3 million chickens and ducks to prevent the spread of the disease, the ministry said. The strain did not get transmitted to humans.
The virus has not appeared in the country since then.
Bird flu has affected millions of chickens in 12 countries, but only 206 humans had died from the H5N1 strain as of last November, according to the World Health Organization.
No Korean residents have been affected.
By Park Sang-woo Staff Reporter [email@example.com]