Published On: Sun, Jan 26th, 2014

South Korea H5N8 avian flu update, virus spreads to chicken farm

On Saturday, Michael Coston, owner and writer for the website, Avian Flu Diary joined me on the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show to give an update on latest from the South Korean outbreak of H5N8 avian influenza.




This relatively unknown virus made it’s appearance a little over a week ago in South Korea.

“H5N8 is a relatively new virus we’re seeing in a highly pathogenic form”, Coston said. “We’ve seen it before in Europe and the US as a low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI).”

The virus has been seen on a number of duck farms in South Korea, and as Coston notes, “it’s seen in a lot of ducks and migratory geese”.

The bird migrate to Korea and Japan during the winter months, migrating from Siberia and China, where they stay during the summer months.

Since the interview Saturday, Mr. Coston reported that the H5N8 avian flu virus has been detected  at a chicken farm some 80 km north of the original outbreak, in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province.

He went on to explain a little history about the virus when it was seen in China several years ago.

“We are literally watching a new highly pathogenic avian flu virus being born”, Coston said. “Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess, but our experience with H5N1 tells us not to ignore it.”

When asked about what the South Koreans are doing to get this outbreak under control, Coston says, “The South Koreans put a stop order on all travel in affected areas. They quarantined a bunch of farms and poultry workers were told they could not leave during the 48 hours after the discovery.”

“They’re saying this weekend will tell the tale. If they get a handle on it this weekend they may be able to contain it, if they haven’t got a handle on it by the first of next week, they’re afraid it’ll go nationwide like they saw in 2011 where they had to cull 5.5 million birds on more than 250 farms across the nation.”

He says South Korea is very busy disinfecting farms, testing birds and other procedures to get a handle on it.

He says that currently there is no threat to humans. LISTEN to the complete interview below.


For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page and the Outbreak News This Week Radio Show page.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Bird flu update: Five more human H7N9 avian influenza cases reported from China, HK bans poultry import from South Korea due to H5N8 bird flu outbreak - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] two areas of South Korea–South Chung Cheong Do and South Jeolla Do–because of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza outbreak in chickens, geese and ducks. “We will be in close liaison with the Korean authorities over […]

  2. South Korea culls over 600,000 birds in effort to slow spread of H5N8 avian flu - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] is a relatively new virus we’re seeing in a highly pathogenic form”, Coston said. “We’ve seen it before in Europe and the US as a low-pathogenic avian influenza […]

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