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2008/04/16 15:10 KST
Seoul sends in troops to destroy influeza-infected flocks

   SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- The Ministry of National Defense has decided to send in additional soldiers to help destroy tens of thousands of fowl infected with the deadly avian influenza, a ministry official said Wednesday.

   The decision came as the Seoul government issued the second highest level of alert for bird flu earlier Wednesday.

   "The military has set up 23 quarantine and inspection posts at various areas in North Jeolla Province, such as the Gimje area where outbreaks have been most serious, and mobilized an average of 185 troops a day to help stop the spread of avian influenza," the ministry official said.

   The additional troops will be desployed specifically to help destroy infected chickens and ducks, according to the ministry.

   Out of 32 suspected outbreaks, about 20 have tested positive for the H5 virulent strain of the avian influenza. Hundreds of thousands of birds have already been destroyed since the first outbreak of the deadly avian virus was reported at the beginning of the month.

   Health officials fear this year's outbreak may lead to over 2 million birds being culled and buried in the Gimje area alone. Over 5.6 million birds were destroyed in 2003 when the country was hit by the worst outbreak of the avian influenza, better known as bird flu.