South Korea raises H5N1 alert as outbreak reports rise

Apr 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) –Agriculture officials in South Korea said today they had received new reports of suspicious bird deaths at seven different sites, as the number of confirmed H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks grew by three, to 15.

The suspected outbreaks are in North and South Jeolla provinces in the southwestern part of South Korea, not far from the sites of other recent outbreaks, according to a report from Reuters today.

Yesterday South Korea raised its bird flu alert to its second highest level, as 200 military personnel were dispatched to cull birds in Pyeongtaek, in Gyeonggi province, about 37 miles south of Seoul, Reuters reported.

A report that South Korean officials submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Apr 15 detailed 11 outbreaks, two of which had been previously reported. The new outbreak reports ranged from Apr 6 to Apr 12. Two of the latest outbreaks occurred at duck farms, five at laying-chicken farms, one at a parent-stock chicken farm, and one at a restaurant with backyard poultry.

All chickens and ducks in a 3-km radius around the infected sites were slaughtered, and all ducks in a 3-to 10-km area around the sites were also stamped, according to the OIE report. The summary said 326,000 birds have been destroyed; however, media reports have placed the number of culled birds at closer to 3 million, according to Reuters.

South Korea has been battling the quickly spreading outbreaks since early April, when the virus hit chickens at a commercial farm in Gimje, a town in the southwestern part of the country.The H5N1 outbreak was the country's first in just over a year.

No human H5N1 infections have been reported with the latest round of bird outbreaks, and the country has never recorded any H5N1 cases or deaths.

See also:

OIE reports on South Korea's 2008 H5N1 outbreaks

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