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(5th LD) S. Korea on alert over highly pathogenic bird flu as caseload reaches 10

All News 22:32 December 11, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 1-6)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea confirmed two more cases of highly pathogenic bird flu in poultry Friday, raising the total caseload of this season to 10.

The country reported this year's ninth case of avian influenza of H5N8 strain from a duck farm in Jangseong, about 250 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. It was also the fourth case from South Jeolla Province.

The farm was raising about 8,000 ducks and has provided ducklings to 12 South Jeolla poultry farms via a hatchery in Hampyeong in the same province, officials said.

The authorities plan to slaughter all 191,000 ducks in the affected farms.

Later in the day, another infection was discovered at a duck farm in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, about 220 kilometers south of Seoul.

The farm was raising 17,000 ducks. The province plans to cull about 84,000 birds in a 3-km radius of the farm, officials said.

The country has been reporting highly contagious avian influenza cases from local farms nationwide, also including the provinces of Gyeonggi, North Chungcheong and North Gyeongsang.

A truck disinfects areas surrounding a duck farm in Jangseong, 252 kilometers south of Seoul, on Dec. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

"Bird flu cases traced to poultry farms will put a significant burden on society," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.

"We need to thoroughly investigate infected farms and take prompt actions to prevent additional cases," Chung added, pointing out the country is at a critical juncture in curbing the nationwide spread of the disease.

The prime minister also ordered authorities to focus their disinfection operations on wild bird habitats surrounding poultry farms.

The country has already completed the culling of more than 4.4 million poultry being raised at affected farms, including 2.65 million chickens and 1.01 million quails, according to the ministry.

Authorities cull poultry within a 3-km radius of infected farms as a preventive measure.

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 23 cases have been found from wild bird habitats across the country, according to the ministry. Authorities are investigating two more suspected cases among wild birds.

Officials prepare to cull ducks from a farm located in Jangseong, 252 kilometers south of Seoul, on Dec. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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