Apr 4, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in South Korea today confirmed that large numbers of chicken deaths at a commercial farm in the southwestern part of the country were caused by H5N1 avian influenza.
An agriculture ministry official said plans were underway to slaughter about 308,000 chickens near the outbreak area, the Associated Press reported today. South Korea's last H5N1 outbreak occurred just over a year ago, when the virus struck a duck farm in South Chungcheong province, according to a previous report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The outbreak site is an egg production farm in Gimje, about 162 miles south of Seoul, according to a report yesterday by Xinhua, China's state news agency. The farm has about 150,000 chickens and produces 100,000 eggs per day. A report the country submitted to the OIE on Apr 2 said chicken deaths started increasing on Mar 29, and 3 days later 1,000 birds were found dead, which led the owner of the farm to notify veterinary services.
Officials said eggs from the farm would be recalled and buried to prevent the spread of the disease, and eggs from seven other farms in the neighborhood will also be destroyed, Xinhua reported. The story added that there have been no reports of people becoming sick after eating eggs.
Officials are obtaining blood samples from chickens, migratory birds, and foreign workers at the farm to determine the source of the outbreak, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today. Kim Chang-Seob, the agriculture ministry's chief veterinary officer, told AFP that an early spring outbreak was somewhat unusual, because most outbreaks occur between November and March.
Kim said health officials suspect the virus may have come from migratory birds or perhaps infected workers who came from areas experiencing avian flu outbreaks. "The infected farm hires 11 foreign workers who came from Mongolia, Vietnam, and China," he told AFP.
OIE reports on South Korean outbreak
Jun 18, 2007, final OIE report on previous South Korean outbreak