Avian flu in Korea crops up again after lull

Jan 7, 2003 (CIDRAP News) – The avian influenza outbreak in South Korea showed signs of subsiding last week, but the disease turned up at a new site Jan 4, according to Korean newspaper reports.

The new case was confirmed at a duck farm in South Chungchong Province in the west-central part of the country, bringing the number of affected farms to 15, according to a Jan 5 report in the Korea Times.

Last week the country went for 6 days without any new reports of the disease, according to a Jan 2 report in the Times. That prompted government officials to say the outbreak was under control.

The highly contagious disease was first identified at a chicken farm Dec 15 and later spread to farms in five different provinces. Nearly 2 million chickens and ducks in the affected areas have been killed to contain the disease, according to the Times.

The outbreak has been reported to involve an H5N1 virus, the same type that crossed into humans in Hong Kong in 1997, causing 18 cases and six deaths. The Times report said about 1,500 people have been exposed to infected poultry in the current outbreak, but none have reported flu symptoms.

The newspaper said Korean officials have sent blood samples from people who were exposed to the sick birds to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm that the virus has not jumped to humans.

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