Avian influenza was found in a dog on a farm in South Gyeongsang Province amid growing concerns that the disease could spread to other animals, officials the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. The dog ― one of three at a duck farm in Goseong-gun, South Gyeongsang Province ― had antigens for the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said. The disease affected the farm on Jan. 23.
Since the first case of a dog being infected with the poultry virus in March 2014, there have been 55 dogs found with antibodies to the bird flu virus. The antibody means the immune system of the dogs eliminated the virus. This is the first time bird flu has been found in a dog in Korea through the detection of antigens.
“None of these dogs had shown symptoms. No antigens or antibodies for the virus were found in the two other dogs, which means that dog-to-dog transmission is unlikely to have happened,” quarantine officials said.
The ministry suspected that the dog may have eaten infected animals at the farm. All poultry and dogs at the concerned farm were slaughtered as part of the preventive measures right after the farm was reported to have been infected with the disease, officials said.
Meanwhile, quarantine officials rejected the possibility of viral transmission to humans. According to the ministry’s report, about 450 workers at infected farms across the country had been given an antigen test, with none showing signs of infection. None of Korea’s 20,000 farm workers have reported any symptoms so far, officials added.
“It is thought that infected dogs do not show symptoms of the disease as they are naturally resistant to bird flu,” the ministry said. Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry has toughened the quarantine measures in Goseong-gun. The region is a frequented by migratory birds, which are suspected to have spread the viral disease.