Bird flu hits farm in Yeongam

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Bird flu hits farm in Yeongam

A duck farm in South Jeolla’s Yeongam County was confirmed Tuesday to have been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of H5N6 avian influenza, marking the second case found in Korea this winter.

The farm in Yeongam has already shipped some 180,500 ducklings to 10 farms since Nov. 9. One of these is located in Naju, South Jeolla, and the rest are in Yeongam.

A total of 12,000 ducks have been culled at the infected farm in Yeongam. Authorities also culled 220,000 chickens and ducks within a 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) range of the infected farm. They are inspecting the farms that received the possibly infected ducklings.

The first case of H5N6 avian influenza this winter was found at a duck farm in Gochang County, North Jeolla, on Nov. 17. Authorities did not find additional infected farms in Gochang.

The farm in Yeongam first reported to authorities the possible infection on Sunday after a drop in its spawning rate, one of the signs of infected poultry. Authorities on Monday issued a 24-hour ban on all movement of live poultry, poultry meat and eggs throughout the country. They expanded the ban on Tuesday to all poultry farms in Yeongam and Naju for the rest of the week, and have forbidden the entrance of visitors to farms in the area. All sales of live poultry in markets in the area have been forbidden, as well.

Kwon Sam-ju, a 52-year-old official of the Gokseong County government in South Jeolla who is in charge of preventing the spread of avian influenza, fainted during a government meeting on Monday, authorities said. He is being hospitalized for cerebral hemorrhage and is said to be in critical condition.

“We think the man was overworked due to the state of emergency on avian influenza in the province,” said an official of the Gokseong County government.

South Jeolla had to cull some 2.1 million chickens and ducks from November of last year to the end of March, as the H5N6 avian influenza was found at more than 100 farms in 10 cities and counties in the province.

In relation to the avian influenza cases found in South Jeolla, Gangwon authorities have asked farmers near Olympic venues to slaughter or relocate poultry to prevent its spread. They plan to cull 6,000 birds and compensate farmers with up to 120 million won ($109,910).

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