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South Korea confirms new case of bird flu
Updated: 2004-03-22 11:40

South Korea's agriculture ministry confirmed on Monday the first case of bird flu in the country for more than one month.

The outbreak uncovered at the weekend at a chicken farm in Kyonggi province was the first case since February 5 and 16,000 poultry were destroyed on Sunday, a ministry official said.

"One farm located in the city of Yangju has tested positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza," a statement from the agriculture ministry said. Yangju is about 25 miles north of the capital Seoul.

A further 400,000 poultry in the affected area north of Seoul would also be destroyed, the official added.

More than 20 people across Asia have died as a result of bird flu, which can in the case of certain strains be fatal for humans, although South Korea has had no human fatalities.

So far nearly five million poultry have been destroyed in South Korea since an outbreak of the disease late last year.

More than 2,000 chickens had been shipped to a slaughterhouse south of Seoul before the confirmation of the disease, but they would also be destroyed, the ministry said.

The virulent H5N1 avian flu virus had also been found in a magpie captured and tested in the southern city of Yangsan, where an outbreak had been reported in January.

It was not expected to pose a significant threat as the incubation period was short in magpies, the ministry added.

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