A brief summary of the recent occurrence of Avian Influenza in South Korea:
On January 17, 2014 the highly pathogenic H5N8 Avian Influenza strain was identified in a duck farm in Chonbuk Province. Since then, nearly 12 million domestic chicken and ducks have been slaughtered at farms as prevention according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA). Also, a number of wild birds have been reported as having died from the infection, among them Baikal Teal (Sibirionetta formosa) and Bean Goose (Anser fabilis). Most recently (31 March) 36 wild birds tested positive among a sample of 427. The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds* released a statement http://www.eaaflyway.net/avianflustatement/, reinforcing the lack of evidence that wild birds are the source of this virus and they should be considered victims not vectors. Also, H5N8 disease control measures should focus on the poultry farms, and they should include quarantine, stamping out, strict biosecurity, cleaning and disinfection, as well as trade and movement restrictions. If conducted properly, these steps help control outbreaks and work successfully to prevent spreading the virus.
During the last few months, various preventative and reactionary measures were taken by authorities. EAAFP gave scientific advice at every opportunity and reiterated the position of the Scientific Task Force in the national, international and online press, as well as on national television and radio. We also attended workshops and national meeting on the issue. EAAFP Secretariat also issued letters to ministries and local councils, and supported the National Institute of Biological Resources (NIBR), a specialised research institute focussed on survey, research, preservation, and management of native species in the Republic of Korea.
For more information on Avian Influenza and wild birds visit the pages of the Avian Influenza Working Group: www.eaaflyway.net/avian-influenza-working-group/
*The Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds was established by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2005. The Task Force includes members/observers: WHO, FAO, CMS, Ramsar, the Royal Veterinary College and Ecohealth Alliance among others.