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Migratory Bird Flu Frustrates Farmers

Posted January. 22, 2007 07:03,   


“Are we supposed to get rid of all the migratory birds?”

The announcement by quarantine authorities that avian influenza (AI), which broke out at the poultry farm of a Mr. Shin in Yongjeong-ri, Pungse-myeon, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do on January 20 may have been caused by migratory birds is alarming local self-governing bodies and livestock farming houses, since this means that the various measures taken to prevent the outbreak of AI were of no use. The officials out in the field and experts agree that, “If it is certain that migratory birds are AI carriers, related measures must be reassessed immediately.”

Various measures to no avail –

AI had broken out in Yongjeong-ri, where AI was discovered most recently, in late 2003 and early 2004 as well.

Since then, Chungcheongnam-do, Cheonan-si, and local farming houses have taken on diverse measures to prevent the return of AI.

The entire village was designated as an “AI outbreak concentrated supervision area” and billions of won were spent to set up “air defense systems” such as mesh nets to prevent the entrance of migratory birds. Public disinfection facilities were set up and squads were put together to regularly disinfect poultry, duck, and pig farms. Recently, pens with double cloth or vinyl curtains to prevent the approach of migratory birds appeared.

However, it turned out that these measures were of no use. Lim Seung-beom, a Chungnam livestock affairs division livestock quarantine officer, admitted, “Because Pungsecheon and Gokgyocheon, where many migratory birds come to stay, are in the Yongjeong-ri area, we had done our best to achieve perfection against possible AI outbreak through migratory birds, but it wasn’t enough. I think it’s time to completely renew the current quarantine system.”

Various Migratory Bird Ideas –

At the “AI Emergency Quarantine Strategy Meeting” held on January 21 where Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials, Chungnam area city and district livestock related officials, and veterinarians gathered, the quarantine of migratory birds was the issue.

Chief Kim Woon-sik of the Asan-si agricultural administration department requested, “Wildlife hunting should be permitted for a certain period in areas in vicinity of the districts, from which migratory birds originate in order to stop migratory birds from approaching poultry farms.” However, this measure is expected to cause strong opposition from environmental organizations such as the Ministry of Environment and the Animal Protection Society.

Chief Kim claimed, “We need to consider enacting of a law that prohibits poultry farming in areas from which migratory birds originate, including areas where AI has broken out twice or more.”

Migratory birds, possible AI carriers?–

Previously, on January 20, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Chungnam-do announced that AI broke out at the poultry farm of a Mr. Shin in Yongjeong-ri, Pungse-myeon, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do. Mr. Shin reported to the authorities when 157 of his livestock died suddenly on January 19.

Kim Chang-seop, the chief of the livestock quarantine department of the ministry, said, “We inspected excrement of ducks at a farm in Galsan-ri, Tangjeong-myeon, Asan-si, a few kilometers from this farm, where AI broke out last December, and of wild ducks at Pungsecheon and Mihocheon, eight kilometers from this farm, and we found a new AI virus that is different from past viruses. This virus is being assumed to have come from migratory birds, not farmhouses.”

Quarantine authorities decided to cull some 660,000 chickens and ducks within a three-kilometer radius of Mr. Shin’s farm, including 30,000 in his farm on January 21. Also, the 20 livestock quarantine control posts that are being operated since the breakout in Asan was increased to 27 locations to control the movement of poultry such as chickens and ducks.

mhjee@donga.com jarrett@donga.com