Earth Watch Report – Biological Hazards
This family of influenza viruses belong to the Orthomyxoviruses. They all range in severity, but cause respiratory infection in the host animals.
Several subtypes of the influenza A virus exist. This virus is more commonly known as the “bird flu” in that it infects mostly avian species, although some have been found in mammals, as well. These viruses range in the level of pathogenicity. H5N8 is one of the many subtypes. One of the main reasons for concern is these viruses undergo constant change, which makes vaccine manufacturing almost impossible. By the time a vaccine is distributed, the virus may have already mutated. Although H5N8 is considered one of the lower pathenogenic subtypes, it is beginning to become more so. Many times, H5N8 is used as an incubator for the highly pathogenic H1N1. 
|Biological Hazard||South Korea||Province of Jeollabuk-do, Gochang|
|Korean officials have confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza in the southern part of the country, in the nation’s first case of the virus since 2011. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Friday it had confirmed the presence of the H5N1 virus in poultry at a farm in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do. The AI case was first reported on Thursday, prompting provincial authorities to cull all 20-thousand ducks there, and access to the area has been restricted. Farms in other provinces that have recently bought ducks from the Gochang farm are also taking precautionary measures against the virus. Korea’s last avian influenza outbreak resulted in the culling of 3 million birds in 2011.|
|Biohazard name:||H5N1 – Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus|
|Biohazard level:||4/4 Hazardous|
|Biohazard desc.:||Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic or unidentified diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.|
|Updated:||Saturday, 18 January, 2014 at 12:53 UTC|
|Authorities have confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in the southern part of the country, in the nation’s first case of the virus since 2011. The A-I case in Jeollabuk-do Province was first reported on Thursday, prompting authorities to cull all 20-thousand ducks there. Access to the area has been restricted, and farms in other provinces that recently purchased ducks from the Gochang farm are also taking precautionary measures against the virus. Korea’s last avian influenza outbreak in 2011 resulted in the culling of 3 million birds.|
|Updated:||Sunday, 19 January, 2014 at 04:44 UTC|
|South Korea banned the movement of people who work with poultry and products from two provinces after confirming an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 at a farm in the country’s south. Authorities have restricted movement in North Jeolla province, South Jeolla province and Gwangju Metropolitan City, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Seoul, for 48 hours until midnight Jan. 20, Lee Dong Phil, minister of the agriculture, food and rural affairs, told reporters today. The ministry confirmed the first outbreak in Gochang, North Jeolla province on Jan. 17, and suspects two more cases at duck farms in nearby Buan County, according to separate statements on the ministry’s website. As many as 21,000 ducks have been culled at the farm in Gochang. “It was inevitable to announce a stand-still in order to prevent further damage,” Lee said. “We ask all to comply thoroughly with the stand-still instructions.” South Korea is the world’s third-biggest buyer of corn, used in food, livestock feed and biofuel. The country destroyed 6.5 million chickens and ducks in the previous outbreak spanning December 2010 through May 2011, according to government data.|
|Updated:||Saturday, 01 February, 2014 at 13:46 UTC|
|Two new suspected bird flu cases were reported in South Korea Saturday, stoking concerns that the highly pathogenic poultry disease may be spreading in the country, the agriculture ministry said. According to the ministry, the additional suspected cases were reported at a chicken farm in the southern port city of Busan, and a duck farm in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul.|
|Updated:||Monday, 03 February, 2014 at 03:55 UTC|
|Two new suspected bird flu cases have been reported this week, the government said Monday, as quarantine authorities stay on watch for any new signs after heavy traffic of people during the Lunar New Year holiday. The additional cases were reported Sunday at a duck farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, and a chicken farm in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. With the two newest additions, the total number of suspected cases of avian influenza (AI) reported so far is 77. An H5N8 strain of bird flu has been confirmed in 40 cases, up from 27 on Saturday. Ministry officials said the new suspected cases did not mean the animal disease was continuing to spread. The two new cases were from areas that are already under close government control, they said. “The government believes the disease is mostly being reported in areas controlled by the government. We are seeing sporadic outbreaks, but the disease is well under control,” Kwon Jae-han, the head of the ministry’s livestock policy bureau, told a press briefing. Over 2.6 million ducks and chickens have been slaughtered since the country reported its first suspected outbreak of AI on Jan. 16. Health officials here have said the H5N8 strain of bird flu poses no immediate threats to humans, with no human infection of the strain reported so far.|
New Bird Flu Outbreak in Korea; 500,000 Chickens Culled
A new case of H5N8 bird flu in Korea has led to the culling of 50,000 chickens, according to The Chosun Ilbo. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed the case on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Now only Gangwon and Jeju provinces do not have birds with the virus. No human infections have been reported to date.
A farm in Gyeongju bought 6,700 chickens from a farm in Pyeongtaek, in Gyeonggi Province. The new bird flu strain was detected there on March 4, 2014. The virus was found in bird droppings on the farm. Authorities are culling 500,000 chickens in the area. Lab tests are ongoing to determine if the virus is highly transmissible.
The new bird flu strain was detected in Korea on January 16, 2014. Since then, more than 2.8 million birds have been killed.
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New Avian Flu Virus Ravages Poultry in Korea
6 February 2014 12:00 pm
A dangerous new strain of bird flu that emerged in South Korea on 17 January has spread nationwide despite efforts to clamp down on the virus. Authorities have culled 2.8 million domestic chickens and ducks since the outbreak began, and the strain has also killed dozens of Baikal teal and other migratory birds. As yet, there are no reports of human infections. Scientists are puzzling over where the H5N8 strain, never before seen in a highly pathogenic form, originated. And researchers are scrambling to keep the virus out of the country’s premier poultry research center.
Intensive surveillance of commercial poultry and wild birds had never before detected the H5N8 strain in Korea, says Jae-Hong Kim, a veterinary microbiologist at Seoul National University. Last year, a Chinese group reported having isolated it from apparently healthy ducks at a live poultry market in China. Based on H5N8’s sudden appearance in Korea and the genetic similarity of isolates from poultry and migratory birds, a governmental investigative committee has “tentatively concluded that [the virus] was likely to have been introduced by migratory birds,” Kim says.
Korea’s Premier Poultry Research Center Decimated
5 March 2014 11:30 am
A new, deadly H5N8 strain of avian influenza penetrated the biosecurity defenses of a National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) campus, prompting authorities to cull all of the facility’s 11,000 hens and 5000 ducks.
The devastating loss could set back poultry experiments at the NIAS lab for 2 years. “It will likely to take up to 95 weeks to fully rebuild [the flocks] and resume normal research,” says Kim Sung-Il, head of the contingency team at the Rural Development Administration, which oversees NIAS. Kim adds that the institute, which studies breed improvement and animal husbandry techniques, will reconstitute its flocks from birds kept at other facilities.
A wild goose that died of the virus was found 10 kilometers from NIAS’s Suwon campus, near Seoul, on 1 February. The entire NIAS staff went to work disinfecting and shoeing away wild birds at the three centers that keep poultry. Despite those efforts, 30 ducks were found dead on 2 March at the Cheonan campus, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. The next day, authorities confirmed the cause of death as H5N8 avian influenza. NIAS immediately initiated culling, which was completed on 4 March.