Avian flu in China and South Korea is spreading, resulting in millions of birds being slaughtered to control its spread and opening the way for increased US exports.
UPI, referring to a Yonhap News Agency report, said South Korea had destroyed more than 33 million birds since November in response to one of the worst avian flu outbreaks in its history
And in China, the South China Morning Post said bird flu was affecting half of China. Officials said it was “controllable,” although further spread of the disease was possible.
Seventy-nine people out of 192 cases in January alone died from the disease. A total of 87 deaths were reported by Feb. 12, including January’s 79, and China’s penchant for fresh chicken may make for more human cases, officials said.
THE SOUTH KOREA OUTBREAK
UPI said 90,000 birds had been killed in the latest outbreak in South Korea as a “precautionary measure” against avian influenza. Local authorities had determined the birds might have been exposed to a strain of the disease from migratory birds.
South Korean officials said the 90,000 birds were at one farm, but that an additional 1,108 chickens and ducks being raised within a 1.9-mile radius of the infected birds were slaughtered as well.
A mobile control center has been set up to monitor more than 1 million birds at 295 farms within a six-mile radius of the infection, UPI said.
CHINA’S WORST BIRD FLU SEASON SINCE 2013
China’s National Health and Planning Commission said this is the worst bird flu season since the virus first appeared in China in 2013. Altogether, 370 people have died from the H7N9 strain.
Avian influenza is a virus that can affect humans as well as birds. Most cases of human infection have been linked to exposure to live poultry or contaminated environments like livestock markets.
The fear is that the virus will mutate into a form that is transmitted easily between humans, resulting in a pandemic.
The South China Morning Post said the World Health Organization said there were no signs of sustained human-to-human transmission this year, but it would remain vigilant in the outbreak where affected birds showed no symptoms.
The latest Chinese outbreak has been especially difficult to control because of the Lunar New Year holiday, according to China Youth Daily. Leading up to the festivities, city and rural consumers will buy, feed and slaughter chickens and ducks, and this habit of slaughtering their own birds has increased the risk of spreading the disease.
Zhejiang province in the south shut down all live poultry markets Feb. 11 as part of the containment efforts, and China Center for Disease Control Deputy Director of Emergency Response, Ni Daxin is encouraging people to buy frozen chicken instead. “It involves far fewer risks,” he said.
Some cities in Jiangsu also have banned live poultry trade, the Post said.
CASH CATTLE TRADE HIGHER
Average fed cattle exchange auction prices Wednesday were $3.09 per cwt higher at $122.11, versus $119.02 a week earlier. Cash cattle trading was reported at mostly $124 to $125 per cwt on a live basis, compared with last week at $119 to $120.50. Dressed-basis trading was at $195 to $196, compared with $185 to $188.
The USDA’s choice cutout Wednesday was up $2.72 per cwt at $194.53, while select was up $1.00 at $190.81. The choice/select spread widened to $3.72 from $2.00 with 123 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.
The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $127.12 per cwt, down $0.06. This compares with Wednesday’s Mar settlement of $125.10, up $0.55.