South Korea reports eight outbreaks of H5N6 bird flu on farms

December 20, 2023 - 3:08 PM
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A person holds a test tube labelled "Bird Flu", in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

 South Korea has reported eight cases of H5N6 bird flu on farms, prompting the culling of more than 500,000 poultry, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) reported on Tuesday.

The outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, were detected between Dec. 5 and Dec. 11, in villages in the western part of the country, the WOAH said in a report posted on its website citing information from South Korean authorities.

The virus killed 47 birds, while the rest of the flocks totaling 513,810 were culled, the Paris-based WOAH said.

Earlier this month South Korea reported an outbreak of the H5N1 strain which has been spreading around the globe, including in Japan and Cambodia in Asia, but it had not reported any outbreaks of H5N6.

The H5N6 strain over the past four years has only been detected in Asia, the WOAH database showed, with the latest outbreak on a poultry farm in the Philippines in January.

The strain has infected a large number of people in China in the past years, raising concern among some experts.

Between 2014 and Dec. 16 of this year, there were 88 human cases of avian influenza A(H5N6) reported globally with 87 of those occurring in mainland China, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said in a report released on Tuesday. The latest human case was reported on Sept. 27, it said.

— Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Gus Trompiz and Jason Neely