S. Korea’s bird flu battle at critical juncture
SEOUL — South Korea’s agricultural ministry said Tuesday the number of highly pathogenic bird flu cases from local poultry farms may continue to rise down the road due to seasonal migratory birds, urging farmers to beef up preventive measures against the contagious animal disease.
“As migratory birds will continue to flock into the country through January, local poultry farms are currently at a critical juncture,” the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement.
South Korea has reported 13 highly pathogenic bird flu cases from poultry farms so far this year, while three other suspected cases are currently under investigation.
After reporting the first farm-related case on Nov. 26, the virus has spread throughout the nation, with infections being reported from various provinces, with South Jeolla Province alone adding five cases.
In line with efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, the country has culled more than 5 million poultry from infected farms, as well as the surrounding areas, including 3.23 million chickens and 880,000 ducks.
Local authorities slaughtered poultry within a 3-kilometer radius of infected farms.
“As wild animals, including rats, can carry contaminants, farmers should thoroughly block them from entering their farms,” the ministry added.
South Korea said it will slap fines on farms that fail to follow preventive measures.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is contagious and can cause severe illness and even death in poultry.
The country reported its first highly pathogenic case in 32 months in late October in Cheonan, 92 kilometers south of Seoul, from wild birds.
Since then, a total of 27 cases have been found from wild bird habitats across the country, according to the ministry. Nine other suspected cases are currently under investigation. Yonhap
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