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Bird Flu Spreads to Seoul Region, Eastern Province

Posted May. 07, 2008 08:17,   


○ Bird flu reported in Seoul

The Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Seoul city government confirmed yesterday that bird flu killed pheasants, hens and turkeys in a small zoo in the capital’s Gwangjin ward on April 28.

Authorities said the dead birds tested positive for the H5-type virus, or a mutation of the bird flu virus.

The cage in the ward office where the disease broke out housed 57 birds ranging from hens, ducks, pheasants and turkeys. The rest of the remaining stock was culled.

Another 63 birds spanning 10 breeds were killed at nearby Children’s Grand Park as well as 221 birds spanning 17 breeds at Seoul Grand Park in the southern suburb of Gwacheon. The two parks took preventive measures and put the zoos and their remaining poultry under quarantine.

A ministry official said, “Children’s Grand Park is 1.2 kilometers from the cage and proved epidemiologically unaffected. To root out the possibility of further contamination, we are conducting quarantine activities on nearby markets as well as the park itself.”

The Gwangjin Ward Office is also facing criticism for acting too late. It first killed turkeys after pheasants died, then culled other birds for two consecutive days following the first killing. The office, however, did not ask for a bird flu test until yesterday.

The Seoul city government checked through community networks if anyone was affected by the disease in the area through contact with the sick birds.

○ Spread traced to small market transactions

Suspected cases of bird flu were also reported in the eastern province of Gangwon. Authorities there said a rural village in Chuncheon had 56 of 73 hens and two of 10 ducks die. A preliminary test showed they had the virus and a thorough investigation is underway.

Furthermore, checkpoints on major roads are inspecting vehicles transporting poultry and disinfecting them.

Most contamination, however, is spread through small transactions at traditional markets, which poses difficulty in tracking how the disease spreads.

The pheasants that died at Seoul’s Gwangjin Ward, for example, were purchased in a traditional poultry market in the southern suburb of Seongnam on April 24. But it is also possible that wild ducks living nearby might have infected them.

The outbreak in Gangwon Province was also traced to small transactions at traditional markets, since the poultry raised by farmers near the affected household were found negative.

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