Bird flu outbreak isn't a threat to troops in Korea, USFK says
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — No humans have been infected by a recent bird flu outbreak on a farm about nine miles from Camp Humphreys, but U.S. troops are reminded to follow previously issued guidelines on avoiding the potentially deadly disease, U.S. Forces Korea has said.
According to an update posted on the USFK Web site, South Korean public health authorities have moved to contain an avian flu outbreak among ducks at a farm in Tangjungmyun, Asan, 9.3 miles south of Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek.
The Asan outbreak has afflicted the farm’s duck population with HPAI, or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, the update said.
It’s the fourth outbreak reported in South Korea and is about 70 miles north of the peninsula’s third reported outbreak in Gimje in mid-December.
Authorities have imposed a quarantine within a 6.2-mile radius of the infected farm and announced plans to cull 23,000 ducks within a 1.8-mile radius of it.
They also were conducting an epidemiologic investigation near the farm, the USFK update said.
No humans have been reported ill or infected since the outbreaks began in November, USFK said.
“This means the population is maintaining a ‘safe distance’ from the bird population, and that the virus has not gained the ability to jump from human to human,” the USFK update said.
“Protective measures for USFK personnel remain the same: avoid bird farms and bird markets; avoid close contact with wild or farm birds; ensure feathered foods and products (i.e., eggs) are fully cooked; and ensure your annual flu shot is up-to-date,” the Web site said.
The update was attributed to Col. James Gregory Jolissaint, commander of the Army’s 18th Medical Command. Medical officials couldn’t be reached for interviews on Tuesday.
Most bird flu cases result from direct contact with infected poultry, their feces, or with discharges from their mouths and beaks, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Also hazardous is eating or handling undercooked or raw poultry.
In late November authorities discovered H5N1 bird flu at a farm about 150 miles south of Seoul.
A second outbreak was discovered at a nearby farm early this month.
Authorities destroyed hundreds of thousands of dogs and pigs in the area after discovering those outbreaks.
Both farms are about 16 miles from Kunsan Air Base, the only U.S. military installation in their vicinity.
Worldwide, 258 people have been infected in bird flu outbreaks since 2003 and of those, 153 have died, according to the World Health Organization.