November 28, 2006: It’s a dog hunt that is on in South Korea. The reason: Bird Flu! South Korea is slaughtering dogs and cats to contain the spread of the bird flu epidemic. The pet slaughter comes after the nation has killed millions of chickens and geese to contain the virus.
Iksan, some 250 km south of Seoul is in the process of finding out and murdering 577 dogs and an unspecified number of cats after an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza among farm chickens. A total of 236,000 chickens and 6 million eggs will also be destroyed, health officials said. The number adds to the 96,000 birds that have already been culled.
It has been reported that as many as 153 people have died of the H5N1 virus in 10 countries since it was first detected among chickens in 2003 Most of those who have died from H5N1 have been in South-east Asia, especially Indonesia and Vietnam. Nearly all the infections have occurred in people who lived on farms or villages in close daily proximity to chickens or ducks. Studies revealed that all the infected had contracted the illness from the feathers or faeces of birds. With fears that the virus will mutate into a form which can be passed from person to person gaining in strength, a global pandemic is seen next. The slaughter in South Korea has stemmed from this fear.
Meanwhile, the killing of dogs and cats has been rubbished as unscientific, and experts have pointed out that the dog slaughter will not impede the disease.
However, authorities in Seoul are not willing to buy the argument. Pointing out that other countries are doing the same, the South Korean Health Ministry said that it is just that it is not made public. “All mammals are potentially subject to the virus and South Korea is just trying to take all possible precautionary measures,” it clarified in a statement.
BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT