South Korea or­ders record cull of poul­try to con­tain bird flu

Mil­lions of birds gassed to fight out­break

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

SEOUL:

South Korea has or­dered its big­gest-ever cull of chick­ens and other poul­try, gassing mil­lions of birds to fight an avian flu out­break spread­ing at what the gov­ern­ment called an un­prece­dented rate. Most of the birds culled were egg-lay­ing hens, send­ing lo­cal egg prices sharply higher. Among the first con­sumers to re­act, bak­eries said they were cut­ting down on egg pur­chases and some fam­i­lies said they were switch­ing to other foods. The Agri­cul­ture Min­istry said on Fri­day it had or­dered the cull of 4 mil­lion more birds, which would take to 16 mil­lion the to­tal num­ber killed since midNovem­ber, or al­most one-fifth of the poul­try pop­u­la­tion.

On Thurs­day, South Korea raised its bird flu alert sta­tus to the high­est level for the first time, be­cause of the rapid spread of the H5N6 virus. The gov­ern­ment has said it has found 54 cases of the virus in poul­try since the first out­break was re­ported on Nov 18. “It ap­pears to be more highly path­o­genic and it is spread­ing more quickly than the H5N8 virus that oc­curred in 2014,” Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Kim Jae-soo told re­porters. About 14 mil­lion birds were culled un­til that out­break was fi­nally brought un­der con­trol in Novem­ber 2015.

“We have ap­pointed a cen­tral emer­gency mea­sures head­quar­ters to over­see the sit­u­a­tion and re­in­force our pan-gov­ern­men­tal re­sponse mea­sures,” added Kim. He was flanked by of­fi­cials who, like him, were wear­ing the yel­low wind­break­ers donned dur­ing emer­gen­cies. Although cases of hu­man in­fec­tions from the H5N6 virus have been pre­vi­ously re­ported else­where, in­clud­ing China, no cases of hu­man in­fec­tions have ever been de­tected in South Korea. Out­breaks of avian in­fluenza have been re­ported re­cently in Ja­pan and sev­eral Euro­pean na­tions, in­clud­ing France, which widened “high risk” re­stric­tions na­tion­wide last week. Au­thor­i­ties in the south­ern Chi­nese city of Ma­cau tem­po­rar­ily closed a poul­try mar­ket and halted sales of live birds city­wide af­ter a trader tested pos­i­tive for its first hu­man case of the H7N9 bird flu virus, the gov­ern­ment said. The 58-yearold man has been quar­an­tined in hos­pi­tal and has yet to show symp­toms. More than 10,000 chick­ens and pi­geons at the Nam Yue mar­ket were culled on Tues­day af­ter the dis­cov­ery of the virus. In Seoul, the av­er­age re­tail price for 30 eggs had risen 15 per­cent to 6,279 won ($5.31) by Thurs­day since the out­break be­gan, the state-run Korea AgroFish­eries & Food Trade Corp said, adding that prices were likely to rise fur­ther. “(Eggs) are too ex­pen­sive...I make rolled omelet of­ten for my meals, but I guess I would have to change it to things like fish­cake. My fam­ily con­sumes around two trays per month, but be­cause of the price I would have to make it one,” said 67-year-old Jun Chang-gil, who was shop­ping at Lotte Mart in Seoul. — Reuters

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