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Searching for answers in Korea's avian influenza outbreak Updated: 2017-01-11 20:47:28 KST

It's considered the worst outbreak of avian influenza Korea has ever seen.
Over 300-million birds from almost 800 farms have been culled.
That's almost as much as the last three outbreaks combined.
Egg production has dropped by a third, leading prices to double compared to the same period last year.
To alleviate the shortage, emergency measures are being taken, with the government flying in a hundred tons of eggs from the U.S. next week.
But restaurants, bakeries and ordinary households have already been hit hard.

"The low supply of eggs has had an effect on all walks of life in Korea, even including here at this military base."

The military's egg supply has dropped by 30-percent, taking certain dishes off the menu.
Officials say sausage and other meats will be provided to fill the gap.
But eggs aren't the only concern.

Even though there is almost no risk humans being infected from consuming cooked meat, the Korean public has been put off of eating chicken, leading some businesses to take drastic action.

"We're offering our customers two-and-a-half million dollars if they contract bird flu from our chickens. Although things aren't as bad these days, during past outbreaks our sales fell by as much as 50-percent, so we wanted to both reassure our customers and minimize the impact."

The only risk of human infection is through direct contact with the birds, so the people who are most at risk are those involved in the culling and in charge of handling this situation.

The agriculture ministry has promised to announce a new system for managing livestock diseases in April.
That could include changing the current four-level alert system and other measures such as permanently shutting down farms that are infected more than three times.
But it's possible that a more fundamental change is needed.

"For effective containment, a central control tower run by a body of experts with exclusive powers to make fast decisions needs to be established. We also need a substantial workforce that is ready to do the culling when necessary."

While the government considers future actions, the Korean public will have to bear a period of low egg supplies and high prices, as families begin to consider preparing for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Kwon Jang-ho, Arirang News.
Reporter :
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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