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South Korea nears end of cull to stop bird flu

Written by: Staff
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SEOUL, Dec 4 (Reuters) South Korea has almost finished culling more than half a million poultry to prevent the spread of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu in a southern city where the virus was found, a government official said today.

Last month, South Korea confirmed its first outbreak of the H5N1 strain in about three years, saying the virus had been found at two poultry farms close to each other in Iksan, about 170 km south of Seoul.

''We have already killed 710,000 poultry near the infected farms yesterday and we will finish the cull of another 50,000 poultry by today,'' said an agriculture ministry official, who declined to be named.

There were no reports to suggest the virus had spread to additional farms, the official said.

''We also have no reports that residents or quarantine officials have been infected in or around both infected farms.'' Between December 2003 and March 2004, about 400,000 poultry at South Korean farms were infected by bird flu.

During that outbreak, the country destroyed 5.3 million birds and subsequent testing in the United States indicated at least nine South Korean workers involved in the culling had been infected with the H5N1 virus, but none developed major illnesses.

REUTERS LL ND1422

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