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Ciptapangan Visitor
South Korea steps up mass cull to curb bird flu
posted by admin on 13/02/07

SEOUL : South Korea on Sunday stepped up the culling of poultry and livestock to curb a new bird flu outbreak as the deadly virus spread to a sixth farm despite government efforts to contain it, officials said.

Local authorities plan to cull a total of 309,000 birds, including 133,000 chickens at a farm 90 kilometres (56 miles) southeast of Seoul where the latest outbreak was confirmed on Saturday.

Some 7,000 livestock, mostly pigs being raised within a radius of 500 meters from the farm, will also be culled and buried, the government of Gyeongi Province said.

"We put some 300 people and three earth movers for the culling operation," a local government official said.

The agriculture ministry said on Saturday test results confirmed that breeding chickens at the farm, in Iljuk Village, were infected with bird flu. It is not yet known whether the virus is of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain.

Officials have slaughtered 2.3 million birds at farms including those near the southern cities of Iksan, Gimje and Asan after the country's first case of bird flu in almost three years was confirmed on November 25.

South Korea was hit hard by bird flu between December 2003 and March 2004, prompting the cull of 5.3 million poultry at a cost of about one billion dollars.

Bird flu has killed more than 150 people worldwide since late 2003 and there remain fears it may become a far more highly contagious disease that could trigger a deadly, global pandemic. - AFP /dt

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