Task Force Statement on Poultry flu Reaches Domestic Media

Here’s the latest Korea Times article on AI:


Bird flu spreading to broader provinces

By Kim Da-ye

Bird flu reached two new regions ― Gyeonggi and South Gyeongsang provinces ― Wednesday as the mass exodus for the Lunar New Year holiday began.

The latest report of a suspected avian influenza case was filed by a poultry farm in Milyang, South Gyeongsang Province. The farm has about 9,000 chickens.

A chicken farm in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, reported suspected bird flu Tuesday night; and some 18,000 birds there were slaughtered by Wednesday. The farm is about 15 kilometers away from Sihwa Lake where the H5N8 strain of avian influenza was found in the feces of migratory birds.

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency (QIA) confirmed that the highly pathogenic H5N8 was found in previously suspected cases at two farms in Naju, South Jeolla Province, and Cheonan, South Chungcheong. All birds in poultry farms located within 3 kilometers of the two will be culled.

In the meantime, the controversy over the cause of the outbreaks continued after a committee of experts formed by the QIA said Tuesday that migratory birds were responsible.

Nial Moores, director of conservation organization Birds Korea, contacted The Korea Times and argued against the committee’s opinion, quoting a statement by The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds. The task force was convened by the United Nationals Environment Programme/Convention on Migratory Species.

“To date, global wild bird surveillance efforts have never detected this strain of avian influenza virus in wild birds,” the statement said. “Although a number of people have speculated that the virus has been spread from wild birds, this assertion is not supported by epidemiological evidence to date.”

Moores added, “Why did the outbreaks not start months earlier if caused by wild birds, as wintering water birds arrive in Korea in October and November?”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced Wednesday that it allocated 16 billion won ($15 million) to each municipal government of an affected province so that part of the compensation for culled poultry can be paid out before the Lunar New Year holiday.

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