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Likely H5N1 Spread to 32 South Korean Farms

Recombinomics Commentary 13:23
April 14, 2008

The number of suspected and confirmed bird flu outbreaks in southwestern South Korea has reached 32 despite intensified quarantine efforts, the government said Monday.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said two new cases were reported in Hampyeong, South Jeolla Province and Iksan in North Jeolla Province late Sunday.

The initial outbreaks reported up till last Tuesday were centered around Gimje and Jeongeup in North Jeolla region, but this started spreading to Naju on Wednesday and to Yeongam over the weekend.

Gimje and Jeongeup are roughly 260 kilometers south of Seoul, while Iksan and Hampyeong lay 230 kilometers and 383 kilometers from the capital city.

Of the 32 individual cases tallied so far, 15 have tested positive for the H5 virulent strain of the avian influenza.

The above comments describe the likely spread of H5N1 to 32 farms in southwestern Korea (see satellite map).  The 15 that have tested positive for H5 will almost certainly test positive for H5N1, while other suspect outbreaks in the region will also be H5N1 positive.

Wild birds are migrating north at this time, so infections are not a surprise.  However, the number of confirmed farms is already higher than previous years, and confirmation of the suspect farms would more than double the number of confirmed outbreaks.

These numbers also raise surveillance questions concerning the failure to detect H5n1 at the beginning of the season, in late 2007, as well as the failure of neighboring countries, including Japan, North Korea, and China, to report outbreaks.

H5N1 has been confirmed in Primorie and has also been linked to migratory birds.

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