South Korea yesterday raised the nation’s bird flu alert status to its second-highest level as two more outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N6 virus occurred after the first cases were confirmed last week.
The new bird flu outbreaks were discovered at two duck farms in central and southwestern regions of the nation, the South Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement.
All 30,500 ducks at the two farms have been culled.
One more case was confirmed on Tuesday and the second earlier yesterday, the statement said.
Since the first cases of the H5N6 avian influenza were reported in the same region on Friday last week, a total of four cases have been found and three other poultry farms in other parts of the nation are being tested, the statement said.
The ministry raised its bird flu alert level to “alert,” from “caution” as an increasing number of farms are reporting suspected infections in a short period of time.
More than 510,000 birds have been slaughtered to contain the spread of the virus, accounting for less than 1 percent of the nation’s total poultry population of 84.7 million, said a ministry official, who declined to be identified.
Cases of human infection from the H5N6 virus have previously been reported in China and Hong Kong, with the virus killing 10 people in China since April 2014, the ministry’s data showed.
The ministry has already put in place a poultry movement ban for farms within a 10km radius of where the bird flu virus had earlier been found.
The ministry said it is also considering a temporary nationwide standstill order to prevent the virus from spreading.
Other bird flu cases have previously occurred in South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, since 2014. The outbreaks lasted for more than 660 days, killing at least 13 million birds, ministry data showed.
The most recent bird flu outbreak was reported in March, when the H5N8 strain was found at a duck farm.
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