S Korea raises bird flu alert

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE - SEOUL:

South Korea raised the coun­try’s bird flu alert status yes­ter­day to its sec­ond-high­est level fol­low­ing three more out­breaks of the highly path­o­genic H5N6 strain after the first cases were con­firmed last week.

The new bird flu out­breaks were dis­cov­ered at two duck farms in the cen­tral and south­west­ern re­gions of the coun­try, the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs said in a state­ment yes­ter­day. All 30,500 ducks at the farms have been culled.

One more case was con­firmed on Tues­day and the sec­ond ear­lier yes­ter­day, the min­istry state­ment said. The third case was con­firmed later yes­ter­day at a chicken farm in the city of Yangju, about 38 kilo­me­ters north of Seoul, the min­istry said.

Since the first cases of the H5N6 avian in­fluenza virus were re­ported in the same re­gion on Friday, a to­tal of five cases have been found and two other poul­try farms in other parts of the coun­try are be­ing tested, the min­istry said.

The agri­cul­ture min­istry raised its bird flu alert level to ‘alert,’ from ‘caution,’ as an in­creas­ing num­ber of farms are re­port­ing sus­pected in­fec­tions in a short pe­riod of time. Over 510,000 birds have been slaugh­tered to con­tain the spread of the virus, ac­count­ing for less than 1 per­cent of the coun­try’s poul­try pop­u­la­tion of 84.7 mil­lion, an agri­cul­ture min­istry of­fi­cial who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied said on Wed­nes­day.

Cases of hu­man in­fec­tion from the H5N6 virus have pre­vi­ously been re­ported in places in­clud­ing China and Hong Kong, with the virus killing 10 peo­ple in China since April 2014, ac­cord­ing to data from the min­istry.

The agri­cul­ture min­istry has al­ready put in place a poul­try move­ment ban for farms within a 10-kilo­me­ter ra­dius of where the virus had been found ear­lier. The min­istry said it is also con­sid­er­ing a tem­po­rary na­tion­wide stand­still or­der to pre­vent the virus from spread­ing.

There have been pre­vi­ous bird flu cases in South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest econ­omy, since 2014. The out­breaks lasted for more than 660 days, killing at least 13 mil­lion birds, min­istry data showed. The most re­cent bird flu out­break was re­ported in March, when the H5N8 strain was found at a duck farm. — Reuters

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