A new bird flu outbreak raises alarm ahead of Olympics

2018.01.05 13:40:27 | 2018.01.05 14:20:37

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Another case of bird flu has been discovered in South Korea in the Gyeonggi Province, prompting the government to step up quarantine measures before the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The agricultural ministry said on Thursday it detected a H5N6 virus at a chicken farm in Pocheon, located 45 kilometers northeast of Seoul.

This is the first outbreak in the Gyeonggi Province as the virus has so far been limited to the southern regions. The government has heightened its alert level to contain the virus before it spreads to nearby areas, including Gangwon Province, where the games will be held.

The detected virus is the same avian influenza strain found in nine duck farms in the southwestern Jeolla Province late last year, the ministry said. Authorities confirmed it to be a highly pathogenic virus that causes severe disease in birds and results in high death rates.

The government has culled more than 310,000 chickens within the 500 meter radius of the affected area. Another 300,000 within the 3 kilometer radius will be slaughtered as a precautionary measure.

Officials have imposed a 48-hour standstill on poultry and livestock breeders in the Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces to prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus. Gyeonggi Province is home to about 3,540 poultry farms breeding 41.4 million birds.

By Ji Hong-goo and Kim Hyo-jin

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