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Bird Flu Spread To Three South Korean West Coast Locations
Recombinomics Commentary
November 27,  2006

The agriculture ministry said the death of some 200 chickens at a farm in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Seoul, was due to a mild strain of bird flu not lethal to humans.

The ministry said the government would ban the movement of birds from the Pyeongtaek farm, but that sick chickens would not be slaughtered because they usually recover from the mild strain.

On Thursday the ministry announced an apparently more virulent suspected outbreak in the southern city of Iksan, the first suspected bird flu case since the nation declared itself free of the disease last December.

The above comments describe two of the three bird flu outbreaks clustering on the western coast of the South Korean peninsula, 70-210 kilometers south of Seoul.  This clustering in time and space increase the likelihood that these outbreaks are linked to wild birds.

The first outbreak has led to a massive cull and quarantine due to the detection of HPAI H5N1.  The outbreak described above has been reported as a serotype other than H5N1 or H5N2, but additional details have not been published.  Similarly, the limited number of detected infections has suggested that the third outbreak is also low path avian influenza.

In 2003, H3N2, H6N1, and H9N2 were detected in South Korean live markets. while farm outbreaks of H5N1 and H5N2 were also reported in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

The timing and location of the latest series of outbreaks points toward a migratory bird source.  More information on the serotypes of the most recent outbreaks, as well as the strain of H5N1 and sequence data would be useful.

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