SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The presence of avian influenza (AI) virus was confirmed among migratory birds, which were found dead last week in South Korea, the agriculture ministry said Monday, boosting fears that the infection may spread further.
The case of highly pathogenic AI was confirmed at duck farms in Gochang and Buan, North Jeolla province, some 300 km southwest of the capital Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The test confirmed it was a H5N8 strain.
Kwon Jae-han, director of the ministry's livestock policy bureau, told a press briefing on Monday that tests were conducted following the collective death of migratory birds found last Friday in a reservoir near Gochang, noting that it was confirmed as the AI case of the H5N8 strain, the same as last Thursday.
Kwon noted that whether the migratory birds belong to the case of highly pathogenic AI has not been confirmed yet, but he estimated that the AI virus found at the duck farms was highly likely to come from the migratory birds.
The drake farm in Gochang, which first reported the case last Thursday, parceled out around 173,000 ducklings to 24 farms in four provinces nationwide.
Since the outbreak of the AI, the quarantine authorities reportedly culled some 150,000 ducks and chickens, with about 50, 000 poultry set to be slaughtered as prevention.
It was the first time in around three years that the highly pathogenic AI was reported in South Korea. The latest, which occurred in late 2011, led to the culling of more than 3 million poultry.