Fear of nationwide bird flu outbreak grows as more suspected cases reportedUpdated: 2014-01-22 AM 3:43:13 (KST)
Fears of a nationwide bird flu outbreak in Korea are growing.
Disease prevention authorities said Tuesday that they suspect a duck farm in the southern city of Jeongeup in Jeollabuk-do Province has been infected with Avian Influenza.
If their suspicions prove true, it would be the first case of AI outside of Gochang and Buan counties, the source of the recent AI outbreaks, and would mean that the risk of birds carrying the virus to other places has increased.
With that in mind, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced Tuesday that all ducks within a three-kilometer radius of the infected farms will be culled.
That's a much wider area than the 500-meter radius set earlier, but for now the order excludes chicken.
Earlier in the day, authorities confirmed that the number of poultry farms in Buan and Gochang that have ducks infected with the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of avian influenza has risen to four.
The same strain of the virus was confirmed in a group of wild ducks found dead in a reservoir near a poultry farm in Gochang on Monday.
Officials say this, as well as several more suspicious cases including a recent one on Jeju Island, increases the chance that migratory ducks are the source of the bird flu outbreak.
More specifically, they are pointing to a type of duck called the baikal teal, which fly in from Russia to Korea for the winter.
Korea has a total of 37 wintering sites for migratory birds.
The Ministry of Environment has said it will track the baikal teal's route via GPS, to calculate the possibility of a further virus spread.
Meanwhile, sales of poultry products have dropped significantly over the last couple of days, which is raising concerns in the distribution industry ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Health authorities say however, that there is a very slim chance that the infected products have or will enter the market, and even if they do, the virus is destroyed once cooked at 75 degrees Celsius for at least five minutes.
Kwon So-a, Arirang News.
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