Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

South Korea slaughters pigs to stem bird flu outbreak


South Korean quarantine workers slaughtered thousands of pigs yesterday, as the country struggles to stem the spread of bird flu, an official said.

Nearly 4,200 pigs were killed at a farm in Asan, about 90km south of Seoul, where a case of bird flu -- South Korea's fourth in less than a month -- broke out last week, said Yoon Chang-hee, an official at the South Chungcheong provincial government.

Yoon declined to give a reason for the measure, only saying there was an Agriculture Ministry instruction to cull all pigs within 500m of the outbreak site.

Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment, but Yonhap news agency said pigs are vulnerable to respiratory diseases and could spread viruses.

In the first two bird flu outbreaks last month, South Korea slaughtered pigs, dogs and 14 unspecified animals within a 3km radius of the outbreak sites in Iksan, about 250km south of Seoul.

Yoon said about 2,000 chickens were slaughtered on Saturday at a farm near the latest outbreak site.

That brought the number of chickens and ducks culled in the latest outbreak to 25,000. More than 1.1 million poultry had been killed in the earlier three outbreaks that hit the country since late last month.

South Korea slaughtered about 5.3 million birds during a bird flu outbreak in 2003.

Infections among people have been traced to contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form that could create a pandemic among humans.

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