Tuesday, December 5, 2006

South Korea targets dogs, pigs in H5N1 scare

Wednesday, Nov 29, 2006, Page 5

An epidemic prevention vehicle sprays disinfectant at a chicken farm in Ulsan, 414km southeast of Seoul, South Korea, yesterday.

South Korean officials were planning yesterday to kill hundreds of dogs and pigs in an attempt to prevent the spread of bird flu after an outbreak among chickens, but experts questioned the merits of killing other animals to stem the disease.

A poultry slaughter began on Sunday, a day after the outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain was discovered at a farm in Iksan, about 250km south of Seoul.

The killing of 677 dogs and 300 pigs was scheduled for yesterday, but a lack of available workers could mean a delay, a city official said on condition of anonymity, saying he was not authorized to speak to media.

Approximately 236,000 chickens were also planned for slaughter and 6 million eggs will be destroyed, the Agriculture Ministry said.

International experts have questioned the necessity of killing non-poultry species to stem bird flu's spread, but South Korean officials said such a step was not unusual -- and has been taken in other countries without public knowledge.

Since ravaging Asia's poultry industry in late 2003, the H5N1 virus has killed at least 153 people worldwide.

Infections among people have been traced to contact with infected birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form that infects humans and could create a human pandemic.

South Korea has also been hit by a low-grade strain of bird flu that is not believed to be harmful to humans.

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