By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Thursday it has bolstered measures to prevent the spread of avian influenza (AI) from wild birds to local poultry farms as the country reported yet another outbreak near Seoul.
The move came after two outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N8 avian flu in Yongin, just south of Seoul, and the neighboring city of Cheonan in the past four days, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
It marked the first outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian virus in South Korea since the H5N6 strain of avian flu reported in the nearby Asan region in February 2018.
South Korea is also investigating another case from Yangju, north of Seoul.
Highly pathogenic AI is very contagious and can make poultry very sick and even cause death.
Quarantine officials launched investigations at 10 major habitats for migratory birds around the area where the two confirmed AI cases were discovered.
Smaller poultry farms in the region are banned from selling or buying birds in line with efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.
Separately, South Korea has been grappling with new African swine fever cases in the country as well.
Authorities confirmed two ASF cases from Gangwon Province earlier this month, marking the first outbreak of the animal disease since October 2019.
Although no additional cases were reported from local farms since, the ministry remains vigilant, as the virus can spread again at anytime through wild boars or other animals.
The ministry said it is investigating 1,245 farms of Gyeonggi and Gangwon Provinces on a daily basis via phone.
Last year, ASF swept through pig farms in northern regions covering Gyeonggi and Gangwon Provinces, prompting authorities to cull about 400,000 pigs nationwide as part of preventive measures. A total of 14 farms were infected.
ASF does not affect humans but is deadly to pigs. There is currently no vaccine or cure for the disease.
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