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2008/05/07 19:58 KST
(2nd LD) No one in Seoul infected with bird flu: gov't

   SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean health officials said Wednesday that all people who have been checked for possible human bird flu infections have tested negative for the avian influenza virus.

   The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said five people checked in the Gwangjin ward of eastern Seoul for symptoms similar to bird flu were found to have the common cold.

   The ward had asked people to report any suspicious symptoms like coughing, fever and shivers after the agriculture minister said on Tuesday that birds grown in the ward died from a virulent form of the H5N1 avian influenza.

   The KCDC said blood serum tests showed conclusively that none were affected.

   "Actual examinations of symptoms showed considerable difference from bird flu infections," said a health official. He added that it is not easy to catch bird flu, and past infections were limited to people who culled and buried sick birds.

   No South Korean has gotten sick from avian influenza, but a few have shown antibodies in blood tests. Antibodies are a telltale sign that the virus has affected the body.

   KCDC said that a soldier who has been quarantined since last month for possible bird flu infection actually had a severe case of pneumonia. Detailed blood tests were negative for avian influenza.

   However, health officials ordered parks and educational institutions to limit public access to birds to prevent possible contamination.

   Reflecting this, all birds raised in the Gwangjin ward and the nearby Children's Grand Park and Seoul Grand Park, located in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, have been culled or quarantined in their zoos.

   Quarantine officials said that the confirmation of the bird flu in Seoul brings the total number of outbreaks to 34 confirmed cases out of the 60 reported since April 1.

   The outbreak, which was first centered around the Jeolla region of southwestern South Korea, has been reported in all provinces, with the exception of North Chungcheong Province and Jeju Island.