South Korea has planned to kill cats and dogs over fears of the spread of bird flu. The Agriculture Ministry decided to cull even dogs and cats so as to prevent further spreading of the H5N1 virus after an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus at a chicken farm last week. Animal health experts suggested that this was 'a bit of an extreme measure' because there was no scientific evidence that cats or dogs could pass the virus to humans.
The Agriculture Ministry, however, have taken necessary precautionary measures by killing 125,000 chickens within a 1,650-foot radius of the outbreak site in Iksan, about 155 miles south of Seoul yesterday after confirming the outbreak. They had planned to slaughter a total of 236,000 poultry, six million eggs, and unspecified number of other animals including pigs, dogs and cats in the area by Thursday, the ministry said.
Though, Slaughtering cats and dogs near an area infected with bird flu would be highly unusual in Asia, it is usual for South Korea because this is not the first time. The slaughtering of cats and dogs took place even in 2003, last known outbreak of bird flu - said an official from Agriculture Ministry.
Peter Roeder, a Rome-based animal health expert with the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), who published a research about cats and bird flu earlier this year in the journal Nature, said: 'It's highly unusual, and it's not a science-based decision' and 'we have got absolutely no reason to believe they're important.'