19 duck carcasses found to have traces of bird flu

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19 duck carcasses found to have traces of bird flu

Nineteen Baikal Teal ducks were found dead Thursday around Sapgyo Lake in Dangjin, South Chungcheong, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and officials suspect the cause of death was avian influenza (AI), which has swept poultry farms in North Jeolla since Jan. 16.

The lake is located about 140 kilometers (87 miles) north of the Donglim Reservoir in Gochang, North Jeolla, where the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu strain was first confirmed. After nearly 1,000 Baikal Teal ducks were found dead more than a week ago at a reservoir 5 kilometers away from an AI-stricken poultry farm in Gochang, quarantine officials blamed the migratory Baikal Teals for introducing the H5N8 strain.

“The dead Baikal Teal ducks found at Sapgyo Lake seem to be infected by avian influenza,” said a ministry official at a briefing yesterday morning. “The autopsy report of the carcasses shows that signs of bird flu were found in some of their organs.”

The sample is being examined to find out whether the virus is avian influenza and also to see if it is highly pathological. Migratory birds - which the government assumes are the source of the bird flu - are seemingly moving northward.

“The number of Baikal Teal ducks in Donglim Reservoir has decreased by 120,000, and the same number was added to that in the mouth of Geum River,” said an official of the Ministry of Environment.

Along with the ducks found dead Wednesday in the mouth of the Geum River in South Chungcheong, the ducks found dead in Sapgyo Lake indicate that authorities must remain vigilant about outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu coming out of North Jeolla, as the new confirmations could signal a geographical expansion.

South Chungcheong is adjacent to North Jeolla, and the mouth of the Geum River is located between the two provinces. Sapgyo Lake is located in the northern tip of South Chungcheong. The South Chungcheong Provincial Government has set up 10-kilometer radius from the mouth of the Geum River and Sapgyo Lake to conduct quarantine measures and prevent the movement of chickens and ducks.

The government suspects that the migratory ducks brought the virus into the country, and it is making an effort to implement preventive measures.

“Even if the virus spreads with the migratory birds, the most important factor is contact,” said an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

“Sterilization and control measures conducted on each farm will prevent the infection of AI.”

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