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2008/05/12 16:30 KST
N. Korea on alert for further bird flu outbreaks in S. Korea

   SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is intensifying efforts to prevent the spread of bird flu from South Korea by placing quarantine officials on high alert against possible outbreaks of the deadly disease, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper reported Monday.

   The Chosun Shinbo quoted a North Korean government veterinarian, Tak Sung-choon, as saying that all state quarantine agencies have been vigilant since early April, when South Korea reported a bird flu outbreak in Gyeonggi Province, an area near the border between the two Koreas.

   The remarks come as South Korea is struggling to contain the spread of bird flu after the first case of avian influenza was confirmed in the country's southwestern area.

   At first, the disease appeared to be confined to a few chicken farms in the southwest, but it quickly spread across the nation despite intensified quarantine efforts.

   On Sunday, South Korea reported a fresh case of bird flu in Seoul, the second outbreak in less than a week in the capital. Officials earlier said they completed culling tens of thousands of poultry being raised outdoors in the city as a precautionary measure to stem the disease.

   North Korea was hit by bird flu in 2005, when it slaughtered more than 200,000 head of poultry, media reports showed. Since then, no new cases have been confirmed, according to the Chosun Shibo.