South Korea confirms highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu outbreaks, ramps up quarantine

A quarantine vehicle sprays disinfectant along the bank of a stream in Cheonan, Seoul, following the discovery of the avian influenza virus in wild bird excrement.
A quarantine vehicle sprays disinfectant along the bank of a stream in Cheonan, Seoul, following the discovery of the avian influenza virus in wild bird excrement.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea has confirmed the country's first outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu virus and has ramped up quarantine measures in response, agriculture ministry officials said on Friday (Nov 18).

The outbreaks occurred at two poultry farms in the central and southern parts of the country after the ministry reported last week that the H5N6 strain of the virus had been found in the faeces of migratory birds.

Cases of human infection from the H5N6 virus have previously been reported in places including China and Hong Kong, with the virus killing six people in China since April 2014, according to data from the South Korean ministry.

The discoveries come as cases of the different H5N8 virus have been reported in several European countries including France.

South Korea's ministry said just over 62,000 birds had been culled to prevent the spread of the virus and that it had a issued a "movement control order" within a radius of 10km around the farms.

There are no indications that the virus has spread more widely, a ministry official said.

South Korea's last bird flu outbreak occurred in March, when the H5N8 strain was detected at a duck farm, leading to the slaughter of at least 11,000 birds.