[EDITORIALS]Bird flu is a wake-up callAs feared, avian influenza has evaded the loose preventive quarantine measures attemped by the government, and is spreading rapidly throughout the country. Less than 10 days since the first cases were reported by poultry farms in Eumseong, North Chungcheong province, the bird flu has struck six duck farms in Cheonan of the same province. Health authorities are also inspecting various other reports of suspected contagion including reports from farms in the South Jeolla and North Gyeongsang provinces. Should it be confirmed that the bird flu has indeed reached as far as these provinces, it is only a matter of time before the entire country is in danger of being infected.
The news of the contagion of the duck farms in Cheonan is especially worrisome, as these farms comprise 22 of the 52 main duck farms around the country. The news has left poultry farmers in even bigger fear. Poultry farms, already going through hard times, have been hard hit by the outbreak, with prices crashing and exports out of the question at present.
It is yet uncertain whether this outbreak was started by migratory ducks or independently in the infected farms.
It is a relief that test results of the people at the infected poultry farms have shown that no person has been infected so far. However, it is still too early to rest assured. The final results need to come from commissioned health authorities in the United States. All measures possible must thus be taken in protecting the public from any possible infection.
It has been long since boundaries have disappeared for other livestock diseases, such as mad cow disease and swine fever, if not yet for avian influenza.
This makes it all the more difficult to come up with preventive measures, but at the same time it makes it all the more urgent that we maintain such measures and modernize our equipment and human resources.
In addition, the public should also keep in mind that humans are safe from the bird flu as long as they cook their chicken and duck and cooperate in ending this outbreak without any major social unrest.