Bird flu moves to North Gyeongsang

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Bird flu moves to North Gyeongsang

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Disease control authorities walk to a poultry farm confirmed to have been infected with avian influenza yesterday in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, to cull 500,000 poultry birds as part of preventive measures. [NEWS1]

Disease control authorities confirmed yesterday that a poultry farm in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, had chickens infected with avian influenza (AI), prompting officials to cull 500,000 birds yesterday at poultry farms located within a 500-meter (546-yard) radius of the infected farm.

The confirmed outbreak report yesterday was particularly disappointing for quarantine officials, as North Gyeongsang had previously remained an AI-free zone.

The outbreak first surfaced in Gochang County, North Jeolla, in January. In a desperate attempt to contain its spread, authorities have slaughtered more than seven million poultry birds in less than two months.

The first outbreak of AI in North Gyeongsang has also raised questions about the effectiveness of preventive measures put in place against its spread. Authorities said the infected farm purchased 5,200 chickens from a poultry farm in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, on Tuesday but did not report the purchase to the quarantine officials.

They suspect the chickens transported from Pyeongtaek were the source of the AI at the Gyeongju farm. The farm in Pyeongtaek that sold the chickens to the Gyeongju farm was neither infected with the virus nor located within a three-kilometer radius of an infected farm in the city, officials said.

The fact that disease control authorities in Pyeongtaek permitted the transport after only conducting a visual check on the animals has also raised concerns about the loopholes in the quarantine measures.

To prevent a potential spread, the authorities plan to cull 60,000 additional chickens raised on another farm in Gyeongju today. Officials learned that the farm also had purchased 4,000 chickens from Pyeongtaek on March 1.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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