Avian flu confirmed at South Jeolla duck farm

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Avian flu confirmed at South Jeolla duck farm

Avian influenza (AI) was confirmed yesterday at a duck farm in Korea, local officials said, just days after the government detected another instance of the potentially deadly foot-and-mouth disease.

The South Jeolla Livestock Sanitation Office said yesterday that a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, H5N8, was discovered Friday at a duck farm in Hampyeong in the southwestern province. Upon official confirmation, approximately 42,000 ducks at the farm were immediately culled, officials said.

To prevent the virus from spreading, an additional 2,000 chickens at the poultry farms located within a 500-meter (0.3-mile) radius were also slaughtered, officials said. All farms within 10 kilometers of the infected farm were also ordered to cease transporting their animals to outside regions for the next 30 days.

The virus was first detected Friday when officials from the sanitation office conducted an AI test on the farm before approving its products for sale. The birds tested positive for the virus the same day, after which officials reported it to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for a detailed inspection and official confirmation.

The restriction on transportation is worrying for farmers in South Jeolla ahead of the Chuseok holidays from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9, when consumer demand for meat typically increases. The transportation ban is expected to be lifted just before the holidays at the earliest if no further virus cases are confirmed there over the month.

The last time the province suffered an AI outbreak was in January, when the local government culled approximately 2.36 million ducks and chickens. The recent AI outbreak comes days after the Agriculture Ministry on Thursday confirmed an instance of foot-and-mouth disease at a hog farm in Uiseong County, South Gyeongsang.

Six-hundred pigs with a range of symptoms were culled that day.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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