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(LEAD) Suspected avian flu reported from duck farm

(ATTN: UPDATES with culling of poultry in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) — A suspected case of highly pathogenic bird flu was reported among ducks at a livestock farm in southwestern South Korea, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

The agriculture ministry said avian influenza (AI) of the H5 strain was detected from ducks at a farm in Jeongeup, a North Jeolla Province city about 290 kilometers south of Seoul, in a pre-shipment test conducted on Thursday.

It marked the first suspected case of highly pathogenic AI detected among domestic poultry in the country this year. All other cases reported so far involved wild birds.

The Jeongeup farm is breeding about 19,000 broiler ducks, and there are six other poultry farms within a radius of 3 km and 60 farms within a radius of 3 to 10 km, the ministry said.

The final test results for the suspected case will come out in a few days, it noted.

The ministry said it has already taken preemptive measures, including access control and preventive culling, after sending an emergency response team to the concerned farm.

The ministry said it has also issued a lockdown order for all poultry farms and livestock facilities and vehicles across the nation, which took effect at midnight and will last for 48 hours.

Highly pathogenic AI is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and even death in poultry.

The North Jeolla provincial government announced Saturday that it will cull about 392,000 chickens and ducks at livestock farms located within 3 km of the Jeongeup duck farm as part of its preventive measures.

The poultry to be culled are 292,000 chickens and 100,000 ducks, it said, adding all 19,000 ducks at the Jeongeup farm were already slaughtered.

“Areas within a 10-km radius of the Jeongeup farm have been designated as an intensive quarantine zone. All quarantine equipment and helicopters have been mobilized to strengthen disinfection in the areas,” a provincial official said.

Reference