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Size of Korean mass poultry cull feared to sharply increase

29 November 2006

SOUTH KOREA - The South Korean government is sure to expand the radius of areas for culling bird flu-infected poultry from the current 500 meters to 3 kilometers, affecting some 770,000 livestock, officials said Wednesday.

On Saturday, a farm in Iksan, 280 km south of Seoul, was confirmed to have been contaminated by the deadly H5N1 virus that can also be fatal to humans. Four days later, a nearby farm was also found to have been exposed to the deadly virus.

According to a government tally, some 140,000 poultry within a 500-meter radius of the breeding farms have so far been destroyed. But an emergency meeting of experts in livestock epidemics and officials from the agriculture ministry on Wednesday shared the opinion that the radius should be expanded, the officials said.

The country's agriculture minister will make a final decision on the issue Thursday, the officials said. A 3-km radius incorporates 40 farms breeding 770,000 livestock, the majority of which are chickens, they said. The government will provide full compensation for the culling.

Between 2003-2004, the government had to spend 45 billion won (US$48.38 million) in culling 5.3 million poultry in the wake of bird flu attacks.

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Source: Yonhap News

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