6 more farms in Jeolla shut down to curb bird flu crisis

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6 more farms in Jeolla shut down to curb bird flu crisis

Six additional farms in North Jeolla, the origin of the recent avian influenza outbreak, were confirmed to be infected by health authorities on Thursday, bringing the total number of farms infected in the province to 12.

“The six smaller-sized farms in Jeonju, Gunsan, Iksan and Imsil County, which reported suspicious cases of avian influenza on Wednesday were confirmed to be infected,” said the North Jeolla provincial government on Thursday.

This brings the number of infected farms in North Jeolla to 12 on Thursday, located across five of the province’s 14 cities and counties.

Only one of them in the province, the farm in Gunsan that is suspected to have started the recent avian influenza outbreak by shipping more than 2,000 possibly sick birds throughout the country from April to May, was confirmed to be infected with a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus of the H5N8 strain.

Many of the infected farms in North Jeolla are smaller-sized farms, each with less than 40 birds.

Epidemiological tests showed that many of these smaller farms in North Jeolla bought birds at traditional markets in the province, including the Samyre Market in Wanju County, Imsil Market, Daeya Market in Gunsan, and the Bukbu Market in Iksan, which in turn bought birds from one intermediary agent in Iksan.

Although one farm in Gunsan had begun the influenza outbreak, authorities say it is likely the intermediary agent in Iksan spread the disease throughout the province.

The farm in Iksan, owned by a man surnamed Kim, bought birds from the problematic farm in Gunsan. Its 100 ducks were recently found to be infected and were culled.

But the farm had already sold birds to traditional markets, which were picked up by three farms in Iksan, one farm in Wanju, one farm in Gunsan, one farm in Jeonju and another farm in Imsil. All of them were confirmed to be infected.

“Initial infection by avian influenza was detected in farms that had directly bought birds from the problematic farm in Gunsan,” said Kang Seung-goo, head of the agriculture, livestock and fisheries of the North Jeolla provincial government. “But recently the virus appears to have spread among smaller farms that bought birds from traditional markets that picked up birds from the intermediary agency in Iksan. The best option for health authorities now is to stop the virus from spreading to bigger farms by strengthening quarantine and prevention measures.”

North Jeolla authorities requested the Ministry of Public Safety and Security to send out warning text messages to residents requesting reports of suspicious cases of avian influenza infection among their birds from Tuesday. As of Wednesday, 138 reports came in from the province, among which nine farms were confirmed to be infected.

A total of 13,735 birds have been culled in 13 farms in North Jeolla as of Thursday morning. Throughout the country, a total of 179,379 birds were culled in 110 farms as of Wednesday.

Additionally, 10 farms - three in Jeju, one in Gunsan, one in Gyeonggi’s Paju, one in Busan, one in South Gyeongsang’s Yangsan and three in Ulsan - were confirmed to be infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza as of Wednesday.

BY KIM JUN-HEE [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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