Gloomy start to year of rooster as bird flu hits South Korea

MarketsAssociated Press

The year of the rooster looks set for a gloomy start. Egg prices are soaring and new year's festivals are being canceled as South Korea fights its worst bird flu outbreak in more than a month.

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South Korea's government said Tuesday that about 26 million head of poultry will be culled by Wednesday including about one-third of the country's egg-laying hens after the H5N6 strain of avian influenza was found in farms and parks.

Egg prices paid by wholesalers have almost doubled from a year earlier while prices paid by consumers jumped 30 percent. The government plans to subsidize shipping fees and temporarily lift tariffs on imported eggs to ease shortages.

It all spells an inauspicious start to the year of the rooster, or chicken, according to the Asian zodiac.