Authorities take steps to contain new bird flu case

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Authorities take steps to contain new bird flu case

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The local quarantine authority dispatched a team with heavy equipment to begin the culling process yesterday after a breakout of avian influenza (AI) was confirmed at a poultry farm in Gochang, North Jeolla. The virus was identified as highly pathogenic, and the entrance to the farm was closed. More than 20,000 ducks on the farm were culled. [NEWSIS]

An outbreak of avian influenza (AI), commonly known as bird flu, was confirmed yesterday at a poultry farm in Gochang, North Jeolla. Officials identified the virus as H5N1, a highly pathogenic bird flu, the first seen in Korea in nearly three years.

AI can spread through viruses in birds, including chickens, ducks and wild birds. The last outbreak occurred in 2011, an ordeal that lasted about six months.

The province’s quarantine authority quickly moved to cull the birds and take preventive measures to stop it from potentially spreading. More than 20,000 ducks on the poultry farm were euthanized yesterday. According to officials, there are no other poultry farms within a 500-meter (546-yard) radius.

Authorities will set up quarantine stations to control vehicles on major roads in the area. Other local governments that have poultry farms in their jurisdiction also deployed quarantine vehicles as a preventive measure.

“There are 17 poultry farms within a 3-kilometer radius, and 152 within a 10-kilometer radius, but no symptoms of have been detected on those farms yet,” said an official from the North Jeolla Provincial Government.

Local government officials pointed to a flock of migratory birds that flew over the area on Jan. 6 as the source. They suspect the disease was likely transmitted through the feces of the animals, which may have come from China, Vietnam or Australia. All three of those countries have had highly pathogenic bird flu outbreaks since last November.

Officials are now concerned about the spread of the disease. The Gochang farm has provided about 140,000 ducks to 24 other poultry farms within the province and other areas. Animals on those farms, however, have so far shown no symptoms.

The latent period for bird flu is 21 days, though the possibility remains that the disease was transmitted before Jan. 6.

“The ducks were provided to other farms before Jan. 6, so it is less likely that the bird flu has been transmitted to other regions,” said an official from the local government.

Korea saw its first outbreak of a highly pathogenic AI virus in 2003. The most recent outbreak was from Dec. 29, 2010, to May 16, 2011, which spread from South Jeolla to 25 other cities and districts. About 6.4 million ducks and chickens from 280 poultry farms were culled. Korea regained its AI-free status in May 2011.


BY KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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