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Korea beefs up its bird flu defenses

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  • Korea beefs up its bird flu defenses


    Korea beefs up its bird flu defenses
    December 18, 2008

    The Korean government said yesterday that it has strengthened inspections at airports and harbors following several bird flu outbreaks in many mainland Asian countries.

    The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it has ordered customs inspectors and quarantine service officials to carefully check people and luggage arriving from China, India, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia.

    Outbreaks have been reported in Thailand, Laos, India and Vietnam in November with more confirmed this month in places like China.

    It also said all poultry farmers in the country have been asked to conduct preventative decontamination of facilities and watch closely for any sudden rise in bird deaths. Regional authorities have been advised to frequently decontaminate vehicles used to transport birds and advise ordinary people not to visit bird sanctuaries.

    The government speculates that past outbreaks in the country were caused by migratory birds arriving from Siberia and China.

    Korea maintains a year-round watch on bird flu outbreaks, although the alert level is heightened during the winter. No virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu has been detected in recent months, although there have been cases of the less dangerous H5N2 types of avian influenza detected in bird sanctuaries in the Jeolla region, on the country?s southwestern coast.

    The country has been hit three times with H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks, with the latest occurring in April and resulting in a record 8.46 million birds being culled at a cost of around 264 billion won ($199 million). Previous outbreaks took place in the winter months of 2003?2004 and 2006?2007.

    No cases of human infection were reported in the latest outbreak, although the government said 10 South Koreans were infected in the two previous outbreaks without developing symptoms. Yonhap