Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Devastates Poultry Farms
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Devastates Poultry Farms
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2021.01.02 18:46
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▲Authorities culling chickens at a spawning farm / News1
▲Authorities culling chickens at a spawning farm / News1


Ever since a breeding duck farm located in Jeongeup-si, Jeollabuk-do was diagnosed with highly pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) on Nov. 26, 2020, 29 farms in Korea have tested positive for the flu. Highly pathogenic AI is known to be highly contagious, causing severe illness in birds. As the government’s policy requires all poultry farms within three kilometers radius of the infected location to kill their livestock, 180 farms have culled 9.43 million chickens and ducks during the last month. The situation resembles the crisis of 2016-2017, when 383 cases of AI were confirmed, inevitably leading to the burial of 31.79 million chickens, 3.32 million ducks, and 3.01 million quails across the nation.
Unfortunately, this time the influenza is more alarming as the infection is occurring sporadically. In the winter of 2016-2017, the virus was mostly spread by vehicles carrying livestock, coining the term “horizontal infection”. This winter, however, infected migrating birds are the key source of avian infection. In other words, “sporadic infection” is taking place. Approximately 1.57 million wild birds of 196 species are reported to settle their nests in migrating territories and wildlife habitats located throughout Korea during wintertime, complicating control over the deadly contagion.
Even worse, highly pathogenic AI confirmation cases are also soaring in other countries. In Europe, the number of confirmed cases has increased by 83 times compared to the winter of 2019. China, Taiwan, and Vietnam have also notified that 50% more AI cases occurred this winter than in the winter of 2019. The influenza has spread to Iran, Russia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Israel, the UK, Ireland, and more. The infectious disease is becoming a worldwide pandemic for birds.
Poultry farmers are encountering a vicious circle of viruses. Dampened consumer confidence and stagnant economic situations due to COVID-19 had already struck them hard. Highly pathogenic AI is now threatening the farmers to cull all their livestock, which are their only means of survival. Accordingly, the Korean government passed a budget to spend 6.2 billion KRW on disaster safety funds to quickly respond to the highly pathogenic AI crisis. In addition, the government plans to compensate livestock farmers by expending 60 billion KRW from the 2021 national budget. Such measures seem more than necessary, regarding the obstacles that poultry farmers must face this bitter winter.

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