South Korea Culls 50,000 Farm Birds as Two New Bird Flu Cases Confirmed

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has culled some 50,000 farm birds as two cases of bird flu were confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the country’s cull this winter to nearly 35 million – more than a fifth of all South Korean poultry – since a first bird flu case was found late last year.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement that a case of H5N6 avian influenza was discovered at a chicken farm north of Seoul, while another case of the H5N8 strain was found at a duck farm in the southwestern part of the country.

The new cases represent a setback for Korea, fighting its worst-ever bird flu epidemic since mid-November last year. The spread of the virus had appeared to be waning since late January.

Bird flu fears are spreading across the world. Most recently, the United States reported an outbreak, prompting Asian nations including South Korea to halt imports of U.S. poultry.

Korea had not seen any new cases of bird flu for 15 days up to Feb. 22, when an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu virus was confirmed at a duck farm. Since then a total of 13 cases have been reported, the ministry said.

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