South Korea confirms latest deadly bird flu strain

SEOUL, April 13 (Reuters) - South Korea on Sunday confirmed its latest case of bird flu as from the deadly H5N1 strain, adding to a string of outbreaks in recent weeks which led to the culling of more than half a million poultry.

The latest confirmation was in the county of Yeongam in South Jeolla province, 320 km (198.8 miles) south of Seoul and about 100 km from the area in a neighbouring province where the first outbreak since a year ago was reported on April 3.

Culling of poultry at about 20 farms in the region is already complete while quarantine officials continue tests on other suspected cases, the South Jeolla provincial livestock office said in a statement.

Farm officials have stopped the shipment of millions of birds from the two southern provinces and ordered the destruction of eggs distributed from the area.

South Korea had seven outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain between November 2006 and March 2007 and spent 58 billion won ($59.5 million) on quarantine measures.

There had been 238 human deaths globally from the H5N1 strain and 376 confirmed cases of infection since 2003 according to World Health Organisation data. An Egyptian woman has been reported dead since those figures were available.

A major concern is the possibility of mutation into a disease that easily passes from one person to another, triggering a global pandemic.

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