(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES paras 1-6)
SEOUL, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Monday confirmed two avian influenza (AI) cases, one being highly pathogenic, from poultry farms amid growing concerns over nationwide spread of the virus.
The authorities said a highly pathogenic bird flu of H5N8 strain was found from an egg farm in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, about 105 kilometers south of Seoul.
The province has begun to cull 193,000 chickens at the farm and 7,000 ducks at a nearby farm in a precautionary measure.
A standstill order has also been issued for all poultry farms in the province, banning movement of birds as well as related automobiles for the next 48 hours through early Wednesday.
Another AI outbreak was confirmed Monday at a quail farm in Eumseong, North Chungcheong Province, about 130 km south of Seoul. Local authorities are looking into whether it is a highly pathogenic strain. The farm is raising 726,000 birds.
The country has now confirmed four highly pathogenic AI cases from poultry farms, with the last case reported from a duck farm in Yeongam, 310 km south of Seoul, on Saturday.
To prevent the disease from spreading to other regions, the country culled all poultry within a 3-km radius of the infected farm, destroying around 500,000 birds.
The first farm-related case of this year came from Jeongeup, 290 km south of Seoul, on Nov. 28, followed by a second case in Sangju, 270 km southeast of the capital city, on Wednesday.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is contagious and can cause severe illness and even death in poultry.
South Korea reported its first highly pathogenic AI case in 32 months in late October from Cheonan, 92 km south of Seoul, from wild birds.
Since then, the country has confirmed 15 cases from the wild.
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