S Korea on alert after bird flu confirmed

2014-01-18 08:00
A Chinese health worker holding viles as workers prepare an H7N9 virus detection kit at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Beijing. (STR, AFP)

A Chinese health worker holding viles as workers prepare an H7N9 virus detection kit at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Beijing. (STR, AFP)

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Seoul - South Korea stepped up the culling of poultry and enforced strict quarantine measures Saturday to stop the country's first outbreak of bird flu in three years from spreading, officials said.

At least 21 000 ducks on a poultry farm in Gochang in North Jeolla Province – 300km southwest of Seoul - were culled after avian influenza was found there, the agriculture ministry said.

"Testing showed it was confirmed as H5N1 avian flu," Kwong Jae-Hwan, a senior ministry official, told reporters on Saturday.

Ducks were found on Friday to have been infected with a highly pathogenic form of avian influenza and a tight sanitary cordon has been established around the farm.

The culling of 60 000 ducks at nearby farms has also begun and a probe into the deaths of about 1 000 migratory birds in a reservoir in Gochang has been opened, the ministry added.

Quarantine measures were also enforced at 24 other farms in four different provinces that were known to have purchased ducks from the Gochang farm.

The last outbreak in South Korea occurred in 2011, when more than six million poultry were culled at more than 280 farms across the country.

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