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Understanding Avian Influenza

Kimchi Helpful in Fighting Bird Flu


By Bae Keun-min
Staff Reporter

Kimchi, a traditional pickled and fermented vegetable dish, has been found effective in curing viral diseases for fowl, including bird flu and Newcastle disease.

A local research team, led by Kang Sa-ouk, professor of microbiology at Seoul National University, said yesterday that a culture fluid of Leuconostoc Kimchii, a lactic ferment in kimchi, showed clear remedial effects for chickens suffering from bird flu, Newcastle and bronchitis.

At a poultry farm, the team experimented with three groups of 13 chickens infected with the viruses. One group was provided only with water, while the second one was given the culture fluid.

The last group was given a diluted culture fluid of Leuconostoc Kimchii.

After one week, all fowl in the first group died. However, 11 each in the second and third groups were cured from the diseases.

Moreover, chickens in the second group, dosed with the pure culture fluid, returned to their normal condition, gained weight from 750-800 grams to 1.5 kilograms and stopped having diarrhea, Kang said.

"The research has proven that the culture fluid of Leuconostoc Kimchii is effective in treating viral diseases, in addition to its already-proven anti-bacterial power,¡?¡? Kang said.

The team will conduct further studies on the lactic ferment and distribute the fluid to poultry farms across the nation after gaining permission from the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service, Kang said.

According to Oxford Economic Forecasting, bird flu is forecast to have caused $130 billion worth of damage to Asian nations since 2003 until the end of this year. South Korea destroyed some 5.3 million fowl worth 150 billion won due to the avian influenza, since the first case in the nation was reported in December 2003. The losses in tourism and trade in 2003 alone are equivalent to 0.6 percent of that year¡?s gross domestic product.

Last year, Kang and his research team, in cooperation with venture firms, found a way to mass produce antimicrobial peptides by cultivating Pediococcus pentosaceus, lactic ferments from kimchi, as they completed a draft of the genome of pentosaceus separated from kimchi.

The culture fluid of pentosaceus can prevent and eliminate harmful bacilli, including Helicobacter, the cause of gastritis, and Listeria and Shigella sonnei, which cause food poisoning.

Understanding Avian Influenza