South Korea confirms H5N6 bird flu at duck farm, raises bird flu alert level

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea on Sunday said it had confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu at a duck farm in the south west of the country and raised its bird flu alert level to the highest ranking.

The virus was discovered on a farm on Saturday with some 12,000 ducks in Gochang county, over 270 km (167.77 miles) southwest of Seoul. All of the ducks were slaughtered after the discovery, the agriculture ministry said in a statement. This was the country’s first such outbreak since June this year.

The ministry has stepped up disinfection measures to contain a wider spread of the highly contagious bird flu virus and issued a temporary nationwide transport ban of poultry for 48 hours, starting from midnight on Sunday in Seoul.

Bird flu outbreaks typically occur in the winter.

South Korea had its worst battle over bird flu late last year which lasted more than six months, leading to a record culling of farm birds and a nationwide shortage of eggs. But no cases of human infections were reported in the country.

Reporting By Jane Chung. Editing by Jane Merriman