|Authorities block entry to a duck farm in Naju, South Jeolla Province, Friday, after the H5 avian influenza virus was detected there. The strain was confirmed as the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain the following day. / Yonhap|
By Kim Bo-eun
Authorities are on alert to contain the spread of avian influenza ahead of the PyeongChang Olympics in February, after highly pathogenic strains were confirmed at Anseong in Gyeonggi Province and Cheonan in South Chungcheong Province, Sunday.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed it detected the highly pathogenic H5N6 strain in the excrements of wild birds in Anseong and Cheonan on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.
The ministry had earlier placed a three-week transport ban on poultry in the area, as well as ordered disinfection measures and monitoring after the strain was detected.
The ministry has ordered local governments and poultry farms to prevent migratory birds from flying in, and take disinfection measures.
Eight cases of highly pathogenic strains have been detected in wild bird excrement _ one each in Suncheon in South Jeolla Province and Yongin and Anseong in Gyeonggi Province, two on Jeju and three in Cheonan.
Meanwhile, the H5N6 strain was also confirmed at duck farms at Naju and Yeongam in South Jeolla Province on Saturday.
The highly pathogenic strain that broke out in the Naju duck farm came after three outbreaks in Yeongam. Naju has the highest concentration of duck farms in the nation _ with over 810,000 birds being bred at 54 farms.
After the virus was detected, the ministry placed a transport ban in the area from Friday to Saturday, culled 23,000 birds at the farm where the virus was detected, and ordered disinfection measures be taken for surrounding areas.
Following the confirmation of the highly pathogenic strain, the ministry has placed a one-week ban on the movement of persons and vehicles, as well as the entry of outsiders, at all poultry farms in Naju. It will conduct detailed examinations at all poultry farms. The ministry has also banned the retail of poultry products for traditional markets in Naju.
The authorities also confirmed the H5N6 strain at a duck farm in Yeongam.
The farm, which is breeding 35,000 birds, has been confirmed to be located within 3 kilometers of another duck farm in Yeongam where a highly pathogenic strain broke out on Nov. 19.
Authorities said the H5N6 strain which broke out at duck farms has similar levels of contagiousness and pathogenicity as the H5N1 type which wreaked the greatest scale of damage last year.
Since the beginning of winter, eight cases of highly pathogenic strains have been found at duck farms in the Jeolla provinces _ one each in Gochang and Jeongeup in North Jeolla Province, while in South Jeolla Province there have been four in Yeongam, one in Goheung and one in Naju.
A total of 579,000 birds have been culled at 24 farms.