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South Korea Reports New Case Of Bird Flu

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A poultry farm in Seoul, South Korea has reported presence of bird flu in ducks, agriculture ministry officials revealed. South Korea was bird flu-free for four months before this discovery.

Investigation by the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency was carried out as the farm reported dozens of ducks suddenly dying.

The bird flu strain found to be present in ducks is identified as H5N8, the same strain discovered in November of last year. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs officials say that all of the 10,900 ducks in Incheon, 50 miles east of Seoul were slaughtered.

As a response, officials have set up control posts it the area. The city also has a 24-hour emergency monitoring system that to prevent the virus from spreading to neighboring areas. Jeju Island also stopped the entry of poultry eggs and meat produced in Incheon, Seoul, and Gyeonggi Province.

This latest discovery is another blow to the agriculture industry of South Korea amid rising concerns of food safety. Early this year, South Korea had a foot and mouth disease outbreak that affected about 260 pigs.

The Influenza A virus subtype was previously described as one of the least pathogenic but it has increased its pathogenicity in recent times. H1N1, the highly pathogenic subtype of the virus used H5N8 as its incubator.

Birds with the virus often have sudden reduced egg production. Eggs often have soft shells. Birds are also noted to have droopiness, ruffled feathers, swollen eyelids, nasal discharges, and loss of appetite.

Birds infected with the virus need to be culled as human transmission is possible. In 1997, six out of 18 people infected died from the disease.

Since the virus is respiratory in nature, common symptoms in humans include flu-like symptoms like headache, fever, chills, body weakness, and coughing.

In the U.S., Avian influenza has affected about 33 million ducks, chickens, and turkeys. Although, no human transmission was recorded in the U.S., the flu outbreak is causing the egg industry to lose millions of dollars in revenues.

Photo: Andrew Girdwood | Flickr

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