SEOUL South Korea's agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it has ordered a cull of 186,100 farm birds to prevent the spread of bird flu after more cases of the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu were confirmed.
The order comes after the government raised the country's bird flu alert level to the highest level on Monday when the first bird flu case found since early April was confirmed as the H5N8 strain.
As of Wednesday, a total of five cases of highly pathogenic avian flu had been confirmed in the country's four regions, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.
The additional cull will take the total number of birds killed since the latest outbreak began in November last year to 38 million, said an agriculture ministry spokesman Lee Ju-myeung, equal to more than a fifth of Korea's total poultry population.
However, Lee said a further mass culling was unlikely as the new cases of bird flu had been found mostly on small farms.
"The virus typically does not spread fast in summer, so it seems we can contain the spread of the virus at an early stage by disinfecting farms," he said.
The ministry has also ramped up preventive measures, including a temporary nationwide ban of poultry transportation, which took effective from 1500 GMT on Tuesday for 24 hours.
(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Richard Pullin)