SEOUL, Dec. 20 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea is set to face record damage from the latest outbreak of avian influenza (AI) with more than 10 percent of all poultry here already slaughtered for infection or in preventive measures, a report suggested Tuesday.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, over 19.9 million birds at 378 farms here have been destroyed or set to be culled as of Monday. The number accounts for more than 12 percent of the total 165.25 million poultry being raised here, according to the statistics office.
In a recent report, the Korea Economic Research Institute noted the country’s financial loss could amount to 492 billion won (US$412.6 million) after 10 percent of the poultry population has been slaughtered due to the outbreak and spread of bird flu.
The report said the amount included opportunity costs, noting further spread of the virus could also have an adverse effect on consumer sentiment, which in turn may lead to a drop in spending.
The report suggested the financial damage from the spread of the animal disease could reach up to 1.47 trillion won should more than 30 percent of the poultry population become infected and thus destroyed.
The number of birds destroyed has already reached a record high, but many government officials believe it may continue to grow for some time.
The animals destroyed belonged to 77 confirmed cases out of the total 93 cases reported. The remaining 16 cases are still awaiting test results, but officials from the agriculture ministry note they will likely turn up positive, citing their close proximity to infected farms.
“There need to be swift and effective quarantine measures to help prevent further spread, as well as efforts to prevent any future outbreak of animal diseases,” the report said.
“There also need to be government measures to promote consumption so the temporary dip in demand for poultry will not lead to a cut in consumption of all farmed products,” it added.