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2008/05/03 09:41 KST
Highly pathogenic bird flu strain killed chickens in Daegu: quarantine service

   DAEGU, May 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's quarantine service said Saturday that a highly pathogenic strain of the bird flu virus was responsible for the sudden death of chickens at a private home in Daegu.

   The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said the H5N1 strain of the bird flu killed the five birds at the private home in the industrial city 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

   It said to prevent further spreading of the avian influenza, 260 chickens raised in three small-scale farms within a three kilometer radius of the home have been culled and buried.

   Quarantine officials said the five chickens were purchased at a local open air market and are tracking where the birds came from.

   Earlier in the week, the government said it would ban the sale of all poultry sold at traditional markets that are open at regular intervals. The measures were taken after experts said the recent outbreaks in the southeastern Gyeongsang region were caused by people buying birds from such markets, which have largely escaped government oversight owing to their relatively small size.

   Authorities meanwhile said that decontamination efforts were underway within 10 kilometers of the Daegu home with close observation being carried out on homes and small-time poultry farms within this zone.

   The government has been catching considerable flak for failing to contain the outbreaks, which have generally been centered around the Jeolla region in southwestern South Korea.