SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – The first snowstorm of this winter, on Wednesday, was bad news for a lot of the residents and travelers in the affected regions, but for AI quarantine officials, who have been struggling to contain the nationwide H5N6 virus, it was a pleasant omen.
More than 14 million poultry have been culled so far across the country, now to the point where certain experts are questioning whether mass culling is the most effective measure, and some are criticizing Korea’s large-scale poultry breeding system that helped spread the virus like wildfire.
According to quarantine officials from Gyeonggi Province, heavy snow or rain can help minimize the airborne spread of the AI virus, and prevent viral agents on the ground from dispersing into the air, serving as a temporary obstruction for the disease. Although heavy rain is usually more effective, officials expect the snow to still get the job done in terms of containing the spread, at least for the time being.
Dry, cold weather is the perfect environment for the virus to become more active, allowing it to disseminate faster, officials said.
Gyeonggi has suffered from AI outbreaks five times in the past five years (2011: Jan. 8 – May 16, 2014: Jan. 28 – Jun. 24, 2015: Jan. 13 – May 22, 2016: Mar. 23 – Apr. 5, and Nov. 20 until now). Besides the outbreak in March of this year, the virus broke out when the weather was dry and cold, while disappearing when it became warmer and more humid.
Considering the below-average volume of snowfall in the area from January to March in 2011, 2014, and 2015, which seemingly contributed to the outbreak of avian influenza, there was no reason not to welcome the heavy snowfall warning issued in the province.
“Snow or rain can hamper our physical quarantine efforts, but they definitely help in temporarily restraining the spread of the virus,” said a provincial official. “The AI virus itself is vulnerable to humidity.”
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)