A new, deadly H5N8 strain of avian influenza penetrated the biosecurity defenses of a National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) campus, prompting authorities to cull all of the facility's 11,000 hens and 5000 ducks.
The devastating loss could set back poultry experiments at the NIAS lab for 2 years. "It will likely to take up to 95 weeks to fully rebuild [the flocks] and resume normal research," says Kim Sung-Il, head of the contingency team at the Rural Development Administration, which oversees NIAS. Kim adds that the institute, which studies breed improvement and animal husbandry techniques, will reconstitute its flocks from birds kept at other facilities.
A wild goose that died of the virus was found 10 kilometers from NIAS's Suwon campus, near Seoul, on 1 February. The entire NIAS staff went to work disinfecting and shoeing away wild birds at the three centers that keep poultry. Despite those efforts, 30 ducks were found dead on 2 March at the Cheonan campus, 85 kilometers south of Seoul. The next day, authorities confirmed the cause of death as H5N8 avian influenza. NIAS immediately initiated culling, which was completed on 4 March.