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Bird flu outbreak in South Korea

24-Mar-2004

As the FAO continues its calls for caution over bird flu, South Korea announced that a new outbreak of the disease has taken place on a small battery farm just north of the capital, Seoul.

South Korean authorities confirmed the outbreak at the beginning of the week after chickens tested positive for the avarian virus and have said that a quarantine zone has been set up which will lead to the culling of approximately 400,000 birds. National newspaper reports said that the chicken farm is located in Yangju, 30 kilometres north of Seoul.

A further report from the South Korean government also confirmed that a single case of a wild bird had with the disease had also been reported in the country. The authorities said that a dead magpie had been found 420 kilometres south of Seoul and that tests had proved the disease was evident in the carcass.

 

The evidence in South Korea gives credence to the FAO's warnings for Asian governments and poultry farmers not to be premature in their belief that the disease had been wiped out.

 

Last week optimistic reports were coming in from the China government that it had been successful in containing the disease. Authorities there said that they had not reported any outbreaks of the disease in the key 49 areas for 30 days.

 

However, in answer to this claim the FAO said that all Asian authorities affected by the disease should proceed with caution. At the time, Klaus Stohr, head of WHO's influenza programme, said that continued surveillance and checks on the Asian poultry industry would have to be carried out to help keep the spread of the disease in check. He also added that previous 'victories' had often been called too early, and that further outbreaks have often followed.

 

In a move that has worried many industry observers, Vietnam was said to have last week put in an order for up to 600,000 tons of corn, which was widely seen as an attempt to restock feed supplies for the country's poultry industry. Vietnam has been one of the country's hardest hit by the bird flu and many poultry producers there are keen to get back into business in an attempt to recoup some of their losses.

 

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