South Korea Culls Pets To Curb Bird Flu Spread

An aggressive culling campaign is underway in South Korea to stop the spread of bird flu. Over 250,000 domestic animals, including pets, are being targeted, following a second outbreak of the disease in the same country.??

A second outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed in a poultry farm in Iksan 155 miles south of Seoul. The culling began on Tuesday and will include all animals within a non-specified area "even including mice". The World Health Organization has confirmed 253 human cases of bird flu resulting in 153 deaths, a staggering 59% death toll.

To date there has been no documented evidence to suggest that the H5N1 form of bird flu can be spread to humans by dogs, cats or pigs. It is clear however that pig to human transmission of seasonal flu occurs and authorities are being cautious. Most animals that have become infected are believed to have acquired the virus by eating infected raw birds or poultry. Cats are known to be able to spread the infection to other cats.

European countries have issued guidelines to pet owners in areas where exposure to bird flu may occur. Recommendations include keeping cats indoors and dogs on leash. Bird flu is known to be present in bird excrement and carcasses both of which should be avoided. H5N1 has been associated with death in many mammalian species commonly kept as pets including, dogs, cats, pigs and ferrets.

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