South Korea Mobilizes Armed Forces to Speed Up Poultry Cull

The armed forces of South Korea have been mobilized by the government on Monday (December 26) to help in the country’s biggest-ever poultry cull.

Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs ordered the destruction of another 1.6 million birds in affected areas, bringing the total of birds to be destroyed to 26 million since the first confirmed outbreak on November 18.

Korea’s military will now actively help in destroying birds and disinfecting farms to accelerate the culling process. They previously just stood guard at facilities affected by the outbreak.

More than 78 percent of the culled birds are egg-laying hens, tightening the egg supply in the country. The government responded by temporarily lifting tariffs for imported eggs and financing some shipping fees to ease the shortage.

Seoul raised its bird flu alert to the highest level possible for the first time because of the rapid spread of the H5N6 strain of the virus. There were fears of regional epidemic across Northeast Asia, with Japan and China also battling to curb the spread of bird flu.

Unlike China, South Korea has yet to detect any human infection. China recently confirmed its first two human deaths from the H7N9 bird flu strain.

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