Bird Flu Found at Farm in S. Korea

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Associated Press
Sunday, February 11, 2007

SEOUL, Feb. 10 -- South Korean quarantine officials began slaughtering hundreds of thousands of domestic birds after a fresh outbreak of bird flu in a province near the South Korean capital, the Agriculture Ministry said Saturday.

The outbreak, the sixth in South Korea in recent months, was caused by the H5 strain of the virus, but further tests were needed to determine whether it was caused by the deadly H5N1 type, said Kim Chang Seob, the ministry's chief veterinary officer.

Quarantine officials will kill 240,000 domestic birds within a two-mile radius of the outbreak site at a chicken farm in Anseong, about 50 miles south of Seoul, Kim said.

That would bring the total number of birds culled in the six outbreaks to more than 2 million since November. All the previous cases involved the H5N1 virus.

South Korea culled 5.3 million birds during an outbreak of bird flu in 2003. The H5N1 virus began ravaging Asian poultry stocks in late 2003 and has killed more than 160 people worldwide.

In January, South Korean officials said that the H5N1 strain of the virus had been transmitted to a human during a recent outbreak among poultry, but that the person showed no symptoms of the disease because the poultry farm worker had developed natural immunity.

Most human cases have resulted from contact with infected birds. Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between people, possibly creating a pandemic that could kill millions.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the H5N1 strain has been confirmed among domestic birds at a home in the capital, Islamabad, the third such case in about a week. The virus, which badly affected Pakistan's poultry industry last year, was found in a chicken flock and peacocks at the home, said Mohammed Afzal, spokesman for Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock statement.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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