Authorities open probe into possible bird flu in the wild

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- Health authorities opened an investigation Saturday to determine what killed about 1,000 ducks in a southern county recently hit by an outbreak of avian influenza (AI).

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency found the flock of migratory birds dead in a reservoir in North Jeolla Province a day earlier and began an investigation to confirm a possible link to AI, according to the provincial government.

The investigation comes after bird flu was confirmed in thousands of ducks at a duck farm in Gochang, a nearby village in the same province.

It was the first case of AI since May 2011 in South Korea. More than 3 million poultry were slaughtered at the time in connection with the virus.

If AI is confirmed, it would be the first case of the virus in migratory birds in South Korea, authorities said, adding that such a result would have major ramifications.

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