Avian flu reported to be the less contagious kind

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Avian flu reported to be the less contagious kind

The suspected avian influenza (AI) case on a farm in Gyeryong, South Chungcheong, was confirmed yesterday to be a low-pathogenic virus, wiping out concerns that Korea will see its first contagious bird flu outbreak in 10 months.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries released a statement yesterday saying that the results of its detailed examination showed the virus was a low-pathogenic AI called H9N2, which is milder and less contagious both to birds and humans compared to the highly pathogenic strain of AI virus.

“Now that the virus has been confirmed as the less damaging, low-pathogenic strain of AI, only the affected farm will be quarantined and remain under watch,” said Kim Jeong-joo, an official from the ministry’s disease control division.

On Monday, 53 chickens of the total 450 being raised in the poultry farm were found dead, raising suspicion that the virus may be the highly pathogenic strain. The initial test produced positive results for the AI virus in six of the 10 chickens on the farm, leading the government to conduct a more detailed test of the symptoms.

If the virus were found to be a highly pathogenic strain of AI, Korea would have had its first bird flu outbreak since May of last year, which led to the disposing of over three million birds. Retailers such as restaurants and discount stores as well as poultry farmers were largely affected by the flu outbreak.

“Though the virus has been confirmed to be a low-pathogenic one, we should still watch out for further outbreaks of AI,” Kim said, noting that birds will fly south until April.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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