(ATTN: UPDATES with another confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian flu in paras 5,6)
SEJONG, June 8 (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering a move to restrict all trading of live birds at outdoor traditional markets in order to enhance animal hygiene at the wholesale level and prevent the further spread of bird flu as the country has been grappling with the animal disease every season, the government said Thursday.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it is working on a plan to order all butchers and merchants to only sell chickens and ducks in outdoor markets after slaughtering them in advance.
Currently, live chickens and ducks are traded at 200 traditional markets nationwide, accounting for 35 percent of the country’s annual chicken supply of 43 million, according to the ministry.
The ministry said it will also join hands with other quarantine agencies to strengthen crackdowns on the illegal slaughter of livestock carried out by chicken vendors in outdoor markets.
The government plan came as avian influenza has been spreading rapidly throughout the nation, with 11 infections having been confirmed since the first outbreak was reported Saturday.
On Thursday, the ministry said tests showed the virus that hit a small poultry farm with 21 chickens was confirmed to be the H5N8 subtype.
The ministry suspects that chickens infected with the virus that were sold at a traditional market in Gunsan, 274 kilometers south of Seoul, are the main culprit behind the latest spread of the animal disease.
It imposed a nationwide movement ban on poultry, vehicles and farm workers starting Wednesday to contain further outbreaks.
Source : Yonhap News Agency