December 22, 2003


Mass Chicken Slaughter in South Korea Following Confirmation of Bird Flu at Two More Farms


In a bid to halt the spread of a bird flu virus in South Korea, Prime Minister Goh Kun has ordered the purchase of 2.5 million chickens to be slaughtered.


The order came after confirmation that the disease has hit two more farms in the South Korea. Up to date, a total of five poultry farms have been struck by the H5N1 virus which is potentially deadly to humans.

Goh's office revealed that  government officials were also asked to collect blood samples from all South Korean poultry farms, in efforts to check on the extent of the disease's spread.

The purchase is also hoped to stabilise chicken prices, which have tumbled since the flu outbreak began last week.

The virus is considered potentially dangerous to humans and claimed six lives in Hong Kong in 1997.

But National Institute of Health chief Kim Moon-Shik suggested the virus could be a variant that poses no harm to humans.

"Blood tests showed farmers and their families have not been infected with the virus as yet. So we believe it is not harmful to humans," Kim told reporters.

The meeting was attended by Defense Minister Cho Young-Kil, Health and Welfare Minister Kim Hwa-Joong, Agriculture Minister Huh Sang-Man and quarantine officials, the Premier's office said.

"We are receiving many unconfirmed reports from farmers that their chickens and ducks were feared struck by the virus," a livestock quarantine bureau official said.

The virus has spread quickly since the initial outbreak was confirmed six days ago in a farm in Umseong, 130km southeast of Seoul.

All ducks raised at four farms in the region have been culled but the virus spread to a duck farm at Chunan, 24km from the original contamination site.

The Government also imposed a ban today on the movement of poultry in South Korean's states of Naju and Geyongju where suspected cases were reported in the weekend. So far, 650,000 chickens and ducks have been culled. Chicken exports have slowed and domestic consumption of poultry has plunged.

Video >

Follow Us