Indiscriminate slaughter of fowl, dogs, cats in S Korea

Published: Sunday 31 December 2006

South Korea has begun killing hundreds of fowl, and dogs, cats and pigs in an effort to contain the spread of the deadly h5n1 strain of bird flu. The move came after the country confirmed its second outbreak of avian flu since December 2005.

The outbreak came to notice in the first week of November 2006, when more than 6,700 chickens died at a farm in Iksan in three days. Iksan is a major centre of the country's poultry industry. Test results have confirmed that the outbreak was caused by a highly pathogenic type of h5n1 virus, the agriculture ministry said in a statement. To contain the virus from spreading, the ministry decided to cull 236,000 poultry birds in the vicinity of the site of the outbreak. To avoid further risk of the virus jumping to humans, the ministry also sent an emergency supply of Tamiflu for 50 people and influenza vaccines for another 300. South Korea killed 5.3 million birds during the last outbreak of bird flu in 2003.

International health experts have, however, questioned the killing of non-poultry species to contain the spread of bird flu, saying there is no scientific evidence to suggest dogs, cats or pigs can pass the virus to humans.

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