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SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) — South Korea has confirmed the first outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus this year at a local farm as quarantine officials were culling about 770,000 poultry, the agricultural ministry said Wednesday.

The case of the highly pathogenic bird flu was reported at a quail farm in Eumseong, about 130 kilometers south of Seoul, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

It is the first time that a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 hit a farm in South Korea this year.

South Korean quarantine authorities were expected to complete the slaughtering of about 770,000 quails near the farm later in the day as a preventive step, according to the ministry.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum instructed swift and tough measures to curb the disease and plans to convene a meeting to discuss additional countermeasures, according to his office.

Earlier in the day, a duck farm within a 3-kilometer radius from the quail farm reported suspected cases, sparking concerns over the spread of the virus, which can cause severe illness and even death in poultry. The duck farm is raising around 23,000 ducks.

On Tuesday, the government issued a two-day standstill order on all poultry farms, livestock farming facilities and related vehicles across the country. A violator can face up to one year in prison or fines up to 10 million won (US$8,300).

(lead) s. korea confirms first h5n1 bird flu outbreak this year

graceoh@yna.co.kr
(END)

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