Abstract Despite its high incidence rate in South Korea, the outbreak of avian influenza has not been managed with a sense of urgency. It must be considered as an emergency management issue and the roles and responsibilities of governments, poultry industry, veterinary medicine, mass media, and residents must be systematically assigned and carried out. Language should not be a barrier in terms of the exchange of information and status updates with other stakeholders and in terms of research efforts from other countries. DESCRIPTION OF PROBLEM For approximately 15 years now, avian influenza (AI) continues to be an annual challenge for the poultry industry in South Korea (hereafter Korea). As a result, a large number of birds have been infected and killed during the winter. Despite this, the nation has no systematic approach yet to address the issue. This commentary discusses how Korea has to improve its AI management and implement solutions for its benefit and also to benefit other nations. By providing the latest information on the outbreak of AI in Korea from 2003 to 2017, this short article aims to contribute to reducing the human loss, economic damage, and psychological impact of AI. The main theme is that Korea should not approach AI outbreaks as usual annual occurrences that can undergo traditional management. Rather, AI should be considered an emergency, a serious threat that needs to be managed with urgency. Accordingly, other nations also need to address AI and so doing, Korea and the other nations will benefit from AI information exchange, coordination among all stakeholders, implementation of the four phases of emergency management lifetime, and international joint research and development (R&D). BACKGROUND AI is also known as bird flu, avian flu, or fowl plague. It is a pandemic disease, particularly the H5N1 strain. AI can infect not only different species of birds but also mammals including pigs, dogs, cats, horses, whales, and seals. In the last century, it has infected birds in many different parts of the world. Similarly, AI may infect humans . In general, AI may critically cause human loss, economic damage, and psychological impact. Therefore, to avoid contamination, people need to maintain clean premises, be vaccinated, and have bio-security barriers for infected areas. AI was initially found in Italy at the beginning of the 20th century. Since then, for the last 110 years, it has infected many areas in the international community. In Korea, AI in the form of the H5N1 virus was first detected in December 2003. Similarly, the H5N1 virus infected the nation in 2006/2007, 2008, and 2010/2011. The H5N8 virus began its outbreak in Korea in 2014/2015. In 2016/2017, the H5N8 virus continued to affect Korea, while there was increased concern for the H5N6 virus. Further, H5N8 broke out in the summer of 2017. Thus far, in Korea, there has not been any casualty caused by this disease, but in 2014, the H5N6 virus killed 10 people in China . AI OUTBREAK AS AN ANNUAL ACTIVITY MANAGEMENT The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) has played a major role in managing AI outbreak in Korea, responding through activities such as virus disinfection, financial aid, information distribution, among others. However, MAFRA is yet to implement extraordinary measures, but continues to depend on existing programs. Even the Ministry of Public Safety and Security (MPSS, newly renamed as the Ministry of the Interior and Safety) as a single comprehensive emergency management agency, despite its involvement in the issue of AI, thus far, has failed to systematically implement a nationally coordinated mechanism. In Korea, the poultry industry, consisting mainly of chicken and duck farms, has no choice but to cull or kill many birds suspected of carrying the AI virus. Some business corporations including many farms have also shown poor business practices. For example, some farms’ environment is filthy, and cages are limited. In relation to this, it has been evaluated that wild fowl and a hostile environment are 2 major sources of AI virus in Korea . The field of veterinary medicine, veterinary medical doctors, and the AI vaccine industry are supposed to develop diverse vaccines to fight against AI. However, the efforts at developing a diverse portfolio of vaccines to address AI have not been successful. This is due to such factors as limitations in rapid antigen detection in virus detection, vaccine risks, R&D funding, among others . Generally, the mass media have not given serious attention and news on AI outbreak in Korea at present. Although some websites have allocated space to examine the issue of AI outbreak, the issue is not considered urgent, but only as part of a normal occurrence. Because AI has frequently broken out in Korea without human loss, psychologically, the majority of local residents consider it to be an annual activity or part of regular or normal occurrence. When winter begins, they expect AI to influence their communities. They know that they need to refrain from visiting contaminated areas, to wash their hands thoroughly, to wear masks, and so forth. However, these measures are not foolproof and are incomplete. Some residents continue to be infected via waterborne AI virus because they drink water near where dead, infected birds have been buried . AI OUTBREAK AS AN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT CONCERN When reflecting that an AI outbreak is an emergency, governments at all levels should have a systematic approach to the issue. Because Korea has not substantially set up the national emergency operation framework (NEOF), the specific roles of many governments have not been clearly assigned yet. Also, by the end of 2016, MAFRA incorrectly noted that farm birds are not the single source of AI virus but wild fowl . Hence, local governments have not quickly implemented countermeasures. Further, because routine measures currently apply to AI, governments do not give AI special or urgent attention, and as such, they have not been able to prevent an AI outbreak as well. The majority of poultry farms should evaluate and implement measures on how to improve their economic benefit in the long term without compromise to the safety of birds, and consequently, the consuming public. While investing in a safe and clean poultry environment may be costly at the onset, the advantages are expected to be long-term in many aspects, including prevention of AI outbreak, maintenance of animal welfare, and financial benefits. Without developing effective AI vaccines, it would be challenging for Korea to deal with AI in the future. Reflecting that there was AI virus contamination with subsequent casualties in the case in China, Koreans may also be considered at high risk of infection. The field of veterinary medicine should address more R&D funding, vaccination monitoring, and bio-security improvement . The field must consider the issue of AI vaccines or vaccination to be an urgent matter to prevent or resolve zoonosis. In the beginning of 2017, medical experts in Korea have observed that the AI virus is transmitted to some cats and then those infected cats were killed . Also, when reflecting that AI is considered a zoonosis, given the case of China, the mass media should provide more information on the critical aspect of educating and warning the public about AI. Moreover, the mass media may significantly contribute to preventing the mass killing of (infected) birds and the transmission of AI virus to humans through various communication campaigns. It is a positive sign that local residents have a high level of AI awareness. However, they should not stop there. The general public must also consider the outbreak of AI to be an emergency situation in their communities, to mitigate economic and psychological impacts. In this context, it is necessary for them to seriously demand the eradication of the AI virus to appropriate stakeholders, especially governments and the medical field. IMPLICATIONS TO OTHER NATIONS AI is not only a local issue, but a global issue as well. Other nations, such as China, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, the United States, France, Poland, Sweden, among others, are also affected by the AI virus. Thus, the treatment of AI as a global emergency issue is important and critical if we are to learn from the case of Korea and to finally resolve it on a global scale. To effectively address the outbreak of AI, all (5) stakeholders must have serious involvement in its related management from the beginning, regardless of national boundary. The consequences may be disastrous when a stakeholder fails at its role and responsibility in AI outbreak emergency management. The spread and impact of AI virus may be far-reaching, as it was the case in Korea. Therefore, although challenging, all stakeholders should coordinate their own efforts for the goal of overall emergency management. It is inevitable for all stakeholders to deal with the outbreak of AI by working on the 4 phases of emergency management lifetime . To elaborate, they need to continue to work towards the prevention of (e.g., legalization, inspection), mitigation of (ex., forecasting, holding conferences), and preparation for (e.g., planning, training) an AI outbreak. They have to respond with quick and appropriate actions (e.g., sanitation, vaccination) even before and after an AI outbreak. Further, the measures on recovery phase should be planned even before the occurrence of an emergency. With the support of World Health Organization (WHO), there has to be a more systematic exchange of information on the AI outbreak, AI vaccine, and related developments among nations. Language should not (continue to) be a barrier among nations as there are expert translators who can be engaged to address this concern. Similarly, international joint R&D towards AI vaccines should also be maximized for global benefit. Finally, by addressing the need of researchers, R&D funding, and related strategies, better alternatives may be facilitated. CONCLUSION The key tenet is that to move forward and prevent human loss, Korea needs to consider the outbreak of AI as an emergency management issue, not as an annual routine or normal occurrence. To implement this change, all stakeholders must have established roles and responsibilities assigned to them and that they are able to carry out effectively. From this situation, other nations may learn a significant lesson from Korea. Overall, global participation and facilitation by all stakeholders are imperative, and that observing the four phases of emergency management lifetime, collaborating on information exchange, and joining forces towards international R&D are equally important. The author does not have any competing interests in the manuscript. Footnotes Primary Audience: Poultry Breeders, Researchers, Veterinarians, Emergency Management Officers REFERENCES 1. World Health Organization (WHO) . 2017 . Avian and other zoonotic influenza . Influenza . Accessed Aug. 2017. http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/ . 2. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) . 2017 . Avian influenza (in Korean) . AI Information . Accessed Aug. 2017. http://www.mafra.go.kr/FMD-AI/main.jsp . Google Scholar PubMed PubMed 3. Lee H. , Kitanaka A. . 2016 . South Korea bird flu alert raised to maximum as virus spreads . Bloomberg . Accessed Oct. 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-16/south-korea-bird-flu-alert-raised-to-maximum-as-virus-spreads . 4. Capua I. , Alexander D. J. . 2008 . Avian influenza vaccines and vaccination in birds . Vaccine . 26S : D70 – D73 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.07.044 Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS 5. Korean Society of Dowers R&D . 2016 . AI and contaminated water (in Korean) . Dowers and Life . Accessed Aug. 2017. http://www.soomac.org/gb4/bbs/board.php?bo_table=m21&wr_id=170 . PubMed PubMed 6. Allensworth D. , Stanwyck C. . 2006 . Making pandemic influenza . Commun. Coll. J. 38 – 41 . 7. Suarez D. L. , Pantin-Jackwood M. J. . 2017 . Recombinant viral-vectored vaccines for the control of avian influenza in poultry . Vet. Microbiol. 206 : 144 – 151 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed 8. Coston M. 2017 . H5N6 avian influenza in cats . Outbreak News Today . Accessed Jan. 2018. http://outbreaknewstoday.com/h5n6-avian-influenza-cats-south-korea-cdc-statement-44988/ . 9. Emergency Management Institute (EMI) . 2010 . Exercising Continuity Plans for Pandemics . Emergency Management Institute (EMI), Emmitsburg, MD. © 2018 Poultry Science Association Inc.
Journal of Applied Poultry Research – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 13, 2018
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