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Bird Flu Spreads Across the South Jeolla Province

Posted December. 23, 2003 23:00,   


The highly contagious strain of bird flu is showing no signs of letting up as additional farms in Naju and Muan, South Jeolla Province, have reported flu symptoms in their ducks.

This is fanning concern among people that the bird flu is spreading across the entire South Jeolla region because the farms that are newly suspected to have the avian influenza are located more than 10 kilometers away from the infected farms in Naju.

Bird Flu Continuing to Spread--The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said that an additional five duck farms (four in Naju and one in Muan) have reported flu symptoms, bringing the total number of those farms being tested for the fatal disease to 13 across the nation. Nine farms are confirmed to be contaminated with the avian influenza.

The duck farms in Naju and Muan are verified to have been provided with ducklings from a duck breeding farm in Chonan, which the government confirmed had the symptoms of a highly pathogenic avian influenza, also known as H5N1 virus. Therefore, it is highly possible for these farms to have positive test results for the bird flu.

South Jeolla Province Deadly Hit by the Epidemic--The avian influenza, which initially began at a farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, seems to spread across the South Jeolla Province.

As of Tuesday, eight farms among the 13 suspected farms with the bird flu symptoms are in the South Jeolla region. Considering only two farms in North Chungcheong Province where the first outbreak occurred reported the possible infection, the South Jeolla Province is being deadly hit by the flu.

The fact that the four duck farms in Naju and one in Muan, which newly reported the symptoms, are located more than 10 kilometers away from the infected duck farm in Naju shows that the disease may possibly spread nationwide.

The South Jeolla region decided to slaughter all ducks bred in the farms suspected of being infected with the avian influenza, regardless of the test results. In addition, farms provided with eggs from a duck breeding farm in Chonan, which the government verified had the bird flu, will be inspected for the flu by testing the ducks’ serum and excrement, irrespective of farms’ reports of the symptoms.

South Jeolla region makes up 48.8 percent of the total amount of the ducks being bred in South Korea as of last year. Therefore, as the highly infectious strain of the bird flu is spreading in the region, it is highly possible for the nation to run short of duck meat. Naju, in particular, makes up a large part of duck being raised in South Cholla Province.

Government To Identify the Cause of the Disease--The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is making every effort to find the cause of the disease since it will be easy to tackle the current problem provided that the cause is detected. To this end, the ministry is detecting the possible route of the disease.

The agricultural minister said that duck farms in Eumseong and Chonan are identified as the origin of the spreading of the bird flu, so ducklings from these farms will be detected and slaughtered.

The chief of the infectious disease prevention sector also said once the first outbreak of the avian influenza is identified, it will be much easier to prevent further spreading of the disease. That is because health officials can find infected ducks or ducks with a high possibility of infection by detecting the route of the avian influenza.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is also considering setting up an agency in charge of disinfection, because the ministry failed to prevent the disease from spreading in the early stages due to insufficient personnel and equipment.

jinhup@donga.com shjung@donga.com