The deaths of 19,000 chickens at a farm in central South Korea could have been caused by avian influenza, the government has said.

The Agriculture and Forestry Ministry said it was still trying to identify what type of pathogen might have caused the deaths, reported The Associated Press.

The ministry has ordered the slaughter of the remaining 5,000 chickens at the farm as a precaution against the spread of the highly contagious disease. The ministry is also investigating poultry farms within six miles of the farm.