Bird Flu Epidemic to Be Eradicated 'in May'

The latest outbreak of bird flu, which has spread across the country from Gochang, North Jeolla Province since mid-January, will be completely eradicated in late May, authorities promise.

In a National Assembly committee on Monday, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Lee Dong-phil said, "It'll be possible to declare eradication of bird flu around late May unless there's further outbreak."

A ministry official said it would be safe to declare the country free from bird flu 40 days after all preventive culling of poultry is complete, provided there are no further suspected cases.

Only one report of a suspected case of bird flu came in from Gochang this month.

The latest outbreak of bird flu will go down in history as the most devastating so far. Until Monday, a total of 12.36 million chickens and ducks had been culled and buried.

The outbreak also spread more widely than any other, affecting some 70 municipalities compared to the earlier record of 25 in 2010.

The longest epidemic lasted for 139 days in 2010.

The ministry told the committee that the latest outbreak was probably carried by migratory birds from China.

An official with the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency said, "We believe that the H5N8 virus came from China, given that it was first discovered in Zhejiang Province."

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 15, 2014 12:31 KST