South Korea reports second outbreak of bird flu this month
(dpa) - South Korea has discovered its second bird-flu infections in a poultry flock in less than a week, the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said Monday.
The latest cases of H5N1, the strain of the virus that can also be deadly in humans, were found in ducks in south-western South Korea, a ministry spokesman said.
The infections stemmed from a duck farm in Jongup, a city 270 kilometres south of Seoul, where 6,000 ducks had died of the disease and all remaining birds have since been culled, news reports said.
About 6,500 birds were sent from the farm to a slaughtering facility in Naju, 60 kilometres south of the farm, and birds and meat there were also destroyed to prevent the spread of the infection, the reports said.
The latest infections came after bird flu was discovered at a chicken farm Thursday in Gimje, 27 kilometres north of Jongup. Those cases of H5N1 were the first in farm animals in South Korea in more than a year.
Authorities culled nearly 300,000 chickens on the farm in Gimje and the surrounding area to prevent further outbreaks and banned the transport of poultry and vehicles outside a 10-kilometre radius of both outbreak sites.
From November 2006 to March 2007, six outbreaks of bird flu were reported in South Korea, resulting in the culling of 2.8 million birds. In June, the country was declared free of avian influenza.
Although bird flu is highly infectious among birds, it is not spread easily from birds to people. Most human cases have been a result of close contact with sick birds.
However, medical experts fear that the virus would mutate into a form that could be easily transmissible between people, setting off a global epidemic that could kill millions.
The World Health Organization has confirmed 378 human H5N1 cases in 14 countries in Asia and Africa since 2003. Of those, 238 people have died.