November 13, 2008

South Korean government alerts nation about bird flu


The South Korean government has issued a nationwide bird flu warning due to migratory birds arriving in the country for winter (November 12, 2008).


Past outbreaks in the country have been associated with migratory birds that transmit the disease to domestic birds.


The precautionary alert calls for poultry farmers and butchering facilities to carefully monitor birds they handle, and for quarantine authorities to check for sick travellers arriving from countries that have reported bird flu outbreaks, according to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


The ministry said inspectors will visit bird sanctuaries and rookeries where migratory birds gather in large numbers and conduct regular visits to bird farms across the country. Large poultry farms and vehicles used to move birds must be decontaminated on a regular basis.


Authorities said that if an outbreak takes place, all actions will be taken to prevent the disease from spreading.


The country has been hit three times with the virus, the latest outbreak occurring in April and resulting in a record 8.46 million birds being culled at the cost of around KRW264 billion (US$195 million), while previous outbreaks took place in the winter months of 2003-2004 and 2006-2007.


The government said that 10 South Koreans were infected in the two previous outbreaks without developing any symptoms whereas 245 human deaths have been reported in 48 countries worldwide.

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