Avian flu returns to bird farms and markets

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Avian flu returns to bird farms and markets

Fears are rising over another nationwide animal disease outbreak after the highly pathogenic avian influenza (AI) was confirmed in the southwest.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced Tuesday that it has confirmed three more cases of the H5N8 strain of AI during the Chuseok holiday at a farm in Gwangju; a restaurant in Damyang County, South Jeolla; and at a way-station for ducks going to market in Gangjin County, South Jeolla.

Previously, two duck farms in Gangjin and Naju, South Jeolla, were confirmed for the H5N8 strain of AI, and the disease was later confirmed at a market in Damyang County, South Jeolla, and a poultry retailer in Gwangju.

The quarantine authority is worrying about the further spread of the disease, possibly outside of the region, as people get together for the Chuseok holiday.

It is also preparing for the winter migration of birds in October.

A total of some 34,000 ducks and chickens have been culled thus far.

This outbreak comes back-to-back with a previous outbreak. The Agriculture Ministry usually announces the end of an outbreak when there are no confirmed AI cases for three months.

The current outbreak began Sept. 15, three months after the previous one ended in June.

South Korea has seen five outbreaks of AI since 2003.

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

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