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H5N1 Spread to Children's Zoos in Seoul Korea

Recombinomics Commentary 08:29
May 6, 2008

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said tests conducted on four birds that started dying off from late April showed they were contaminated with the H5 avian influenza virus.

The bird vivarium located at the Gwangjin ward office in eastern Seoul raised 57 chickens, ducks, pheasants and turkeys. The outbreak marks the first time that the avian influenza has hit Seoul since quarantine officials received reports of wholescale bird deaths on April 1.

As a precaution, officials also slaughtered 63 birds at Children's Grand Park, a major amusement park about 1.2 kilometers (less than a mile) from the outbreak site, and 191 birds at Seoul Grand Park, another theme park south of the capital.

The above comments describe the spread of H5 to Seoul
(see satellite map).   The death of the birds indicates the H5 will be confirmed as H5N1.  Thus far all H5 infections in Korea this year have been H5N1.  There have been no reports of low path H5.  Similarly the H5 detected in northern Japan have also been H5N1, further supporting the likelihood that H5N1 has reached the South Korean capital.

A recent report on the 2007 outbreaks in Japan demonstrates that the H5N1 in Japan in early 2007 is closely related to the H5N1 in South Korea in late 2006, which was the Uvs Lake strain.

Therefore, it is likely that the H5N1 in South Korea and Japan this season is also closely related.  The record outbreaks in South Korea likely played a role in Japan's decision to implement a pre-pandemic vaccination plan. 

This decision was further support by reports of H5 in a soldier in Korea.  Although South Korea has still not official confirmed that the H5 in the soldiers was H5N1, the lack of any reports of low path H5 in South Korea or Japan, coupled with the linkage of the soldier to culling operations on H5N1 leaves little doubt that the H5 infection in South Korea represents the first confirmed human case in South Korea or Japan.

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