South Korea, Japan find more H5N1 in birds

May 5, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Agriculture officials in South Korea said H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks have been reported in six of the country's nine provinces, while authorities in Japan announced today that wild swans at a two more sites have tested positive for the virus.

South Korean officials said the three provinces that have not reported outbreaks are Gangweon in the northeast, North Chungcheong in the central part of the country, and Jeju, an island off the southern coast, according to a May 3 report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The agriculture ministry said 23 outbreaks have been reported across the affected provinces and that the country had culled more than 5 million chickens and ducks in April, AFP reported.

The H5N1 virus returned in South Korea in early April after about a year with no reported outbreaks. The virus first hit an egg producer in Gimje in North Jeolla province and quickly spread to several more farms, mostly in the southwest, before striking sites in southern and eastern areas.

In related events, North Korea announced today that it vaccinated poultry to prevent the spread of the virus from South Korea, according to an Associated Press (AP) report that cited North Korea's Central News Agency.

Ri Kyong Gun, a North Korean quarantine official, told the news agency that poultry in provinces bordering South Korea received emergency vaccinations and that 1,600 observation posts had been established on the east and west coasts to monitor the movement of migratory birds, the AP reported.

Elsewhere, environmental officials in Japan said today that two more dead swans from two different sites have tested positive for the H5N1 virus, according to a Japanese media report picked up by Xinhua, China's state news agency.

One of the infected swans was found on Apr 24 on the Notsuke peninsula in eastern Japan's Hokkaido prefecture, Xinhua reported. The other, which was positive for H5N1 in preliminary tests, was found near Lake Saroma, also in Hokkaido prefecture, the report said.

Prefecture officials said they inspected five chicken farms within a 30-kilometer radius around the Lake Saroma site.

In late April, animal health officials conducting heightened surveillance spurred by South Korea's H5N1 outbreaks found three dead wild swans and one sick one on the shores of Lake Towada in Akita prefecture, according to previous reports. Samples from all four of the birds were positive for the virus.

In other developments, veterinary officials in Denmark on Apr 29 reported a low-pathogenic avian influenza outbreak at a farm in the southern part of the country, according to a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The outbreak site is a poultry farm in Stenstrup that housed 2,050 birds, mostly mallards but also including a few hundred other ducks and geese, according to the OIE report. All of the birds were culled. Preliminary testing revealed an H7 virus.

The outbreak was identified through routine surveillance in poultry. Denmark's Veterinary and Food Administration established a restricted zone around the farm and disinfected the site, the OIE report said.

Denmark's last avian influenza outbreak occurred in July 2006 and involved a low-pathogenic H5N3 subtype.

See also:

OIE reports on South Korea's 2008 H5N1 outbreaks

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