Bird flu outbreak hits South Korea
South Korea reported another bird flu outbreak at a poultry farm on Saturday, days after confirming the return of the deadly H5N1 virus following a yearlong absence. Ducks at the farm tested positive for a general bird flu virus, but more tests are needed to determine if it is the specific strain that has caused worldwide concern, said Kim Ung-sang, an Agriculture Ministry official said.
Results are expected by Monday.
Several strains of bird flu typically circulate in poultry, but H5N1 is particularly deadly when it infects humans. Scientists fear it could eventually trigger a new human flu pandemic. As a response to the latest outbreak, Kim said the ministry would destroy 6,500 ducks and has banned transport of poultry within 10 kilometers (6 miles) of the duck farm in Jeongeup, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Seoul.
The farm is 27 kilometers (17 miles) from a chicken farm where the H5N1 strain of bird flu broke out earlier this week, prompting the slaughter of about 308,000 chickens.
It was the first time since last year that the deadly virus has hit South Korea.
The country slaughtered 2.8 million birds in response to outbreaks from November 2006 to March 2007.
At least 238 people worldwide have died from bird flu since 2003, according to the World Health Organization. So far, most human cases have been linked to contact with infected poultry. Bird flu remains hard for people to catch, but health experts worry the relatively new virus could mutate into a form that passes easily among humans who have not developed immunity to it, possibly infecting millions worldwide.