Bird flu virus spreading in South Korea from farm to wildlife

Investigators recently identified the H5N6 virus among migratory birds.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Dec. 6, 2016 at 11:02 AM
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SEOUL, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Cases of bird flu are growing in South Korea where at least six farms have reported the presence of the H5N6 virus.

Another cluster of infections was confirmed near a chicken farm in Haenam, South Jeolla Province, South Korean news service Newsis reported Tuesday.

The farm in Haenam has already been designated an infected site, but the pathogen is also spreading among migratory birds in a nearby habitat in Kumho Lake, according to the report.

Provincial authorities conducted an investigation on Nov. 30 of 40 birds from the wildlife habitat. Results showed two Eurasian teals and one spoonbill carrying the H5N6 virus.

South Korean investigators will know by Wednesday whether the confirmed presence of the virus poses the risk of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza.

A different strain of the virus, the H5N1, known to cause the Asian Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, has proven to be fatal for poultry, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus can infect humans, and some infections have resulted in deaths, but human-to-human spread is rare, according to the CDC.

The farm near the lake was confirmed an infected site on Nov. 18 and is located less than 10 miles from the wildlife sanctuary.

All six farms that have reported outbreaks are located in Sani-myeon, a district in South Jeolla Province.

Authorities said they have conducted clinical examinations of 210,000 chickens and ducks but no further infections were found.

South Jeolla Province is planning a disinfection of the area.

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