Korea kills animals to fight bird flu

(Nov 29) Seoul (Agency reports) A second outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu at another poultry farm has been confirmed by South Korean authorities; the farm is just 3 km from the first case in North Cholla province in the country's southwest.

According to the agriculture ministry, as many as 600 chickens have died but no people in or around both infected farms appear to have been infected; 6,000 chickens died in the first outbreak.

The officials say test results have shown that the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu was the culprit and strict quarantine measures have been imposed around the area.

The South Korean health ministry says all poultry within a 500 metre radius of the latest infected farm will be culled, this amounts to 236,000 poultry; 75,500 poultry have already been culled and 6.6 million eggs disposed of.

Authorities are also said to be considering culling as many as 600 cats and dogs living in the area despite the fact that no scientific evidence exists which indicates humans can catch bird flu from them, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, says the culling of such creatures is unnecessary.

The two farms lie directly under a flight path for migratory birds heading south from Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, and are about 170 km south of Seoul.

There is widespread concern that other parts of South Korea might have also been hit and the situation is a setback for the country as this is the first outbreak of the deadly virus in three years.

That outbreak, between December 2003 and March 2004, resulted in 5.3 million birds being killed and over $1 billion being spent on preventing the spread of the disease.

At the time nine South Korean workers involved in the culling were infected with the H5N1 virus, but fortunately none developed major illnesses.

The vast majority of human bird flu cases involving the H5N1 virus have been linked to direct or indirect contact with infected fowl.

Indonesia said on Tuesday a 35-year-old woman died of the disease, bringing that country's death toll to 57, the highest for any nation.

H5N1 bird flu remains essentially a disease of birds and almost all those infected had been in close contact with diseased birds.

Since 2003, outbreaks have been confirmed in about 50 countries and territories and according to the World Health Organisation it has killed in excess of 150 since then and sickened another 260.

China has banned imports of poultry and poultry products from South Korea along with Japan.

Chinese authorities are also urging those provinces nearest to South Korea to monitor and penalise for the smuggling of poultry products across the borders and to intensify their efforts in combating the spread of the disease, by closely monitoring personnel and vehicles entering China.


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