Outbreak of avian influenza in South Korea

The South Korean government is stepping up its quarantine efforts to prevent an outbreak of avian influenza here following the death of a man in neighboring China from a lethal strain of avian influenza, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it has dispatched special warnings to all its quarantine offices to strengthen their monitoring efforts, especially at borders.

The move comes as a man in China’s Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, is believed to have died last week from a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus, H5N1. Hong Kong also reported an outbreak of avian influenza late last month.

“All poultry and poultry products from China and Hong Kong are already banned, and the possibility of avian influenza originating from China coming to the country is not very high due to our thorough border quarantine measures,” a ministry official said.

Still, the possibility remains as the disease is often carried and spread by migratory birds, the official noted.

An emergency response team has been set up and running since early October when migration usually begins with the ministry scheduled to conduct a nationwide inspection next Friday.

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