South Korea plans to raise the avian influenza alert status to the highest level, government officials said Monday, as it confirmed a case of highly pathogenic avian flu on the country's southern resort island of Jeju.
Officials said they will issue the warning Tuesday and ban all poultry farmers across the country from moving poultry for 24 hours starting Wednesday.
The move came hours after the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said tests showed the virus that hit a poultry farm with seven chickens was confirmed to be the H5N8 subtype.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza refers to viruses that cause severe disease in birds and result in high death rates, according to the World Health Organization.
The farm reported to the authorities after five Korean Ogol Chickens it purchased from a traditional market in Gunsan in the country's southwestern region last month all died. Three other chickens it originally had also died.
Some 3,600 out of 6,900 chickens from the Gunsan farm have been sold throughout the country, including in Busan, Jeju, Paju and Yangsan, according to the ministry.
A total of 31,913 chickens from 18 related farms have been culled so far, regardless of their test results.
The ministry is restricting movement in the area to contain further outbreaks.
Meanwhile, South Korean health authorities said that there is very low risk that the avian influenza virus strain in the country will infect humans. South Korea has yet to report any human infection by the flu.