(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with new case in paras 1-5)
By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea confirmed two more cases of highly pathogenic bird flu from poultry farms Wednesday, raising concerns over possible penetration of the disease deeper into the local livestock industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said avian influenza (AI) of H5N8 strain was found in a duck farm in Naju, 355 kilometers south of Seoul. The farm was raising 32,000 ducks.
It marked the country's sixth case of highly pathogenic AI at poultry farms this year and the second case from South Jeolla Province.
Later in the day, a new AI outbreak of the same strain was identified at a quail farm in Yeoju, 105 kilometers south of Seoul. The farm was raising 110,000 quails.
It marked the second case of highly pathogenic bird flu in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, following an egg farm in the region that reported its case on Sunday.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza is contagious and can cause severe illness and even death in poultry.
South Korea reported its first farm-related case in Jeongeup, about 290 kilometers south of Seoul, in late November.
"With the virus spreading across the nation through wild birds' habitats, farms are vulnerable to infection if they have any blind spots in carrying out disinfection operations," a ministry official said.
Earlier in the day, authorities said they have destroyed around 2.7 million poultry -- 361,000 ducks, 1.5 million chickens and 885,000 quails -- since Nov. 28 to prevent the spread of the bird flu.
Authorities cull poultry within a 3-km radius of infected farms.
Birds at farms with suspected cases are also destroyed.
The country reported its first highly pathogenic case in 32 months in late October in Cheonan, 92 kilometers south of Seoul, from wild birds. Since then, a whopping 22 cases have been found from wild bird habitats across the country.
Health authorities are investigating more than 10 suspected cases of highly pathogenic bird flu among wild birds.
Special contribution by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
Adversary that challenges S. Korea challenging Seoul-Washington alliance as whole: U.S. defense chief
S. Korea submits proposal to Turkey on new nuclear power project
(URGENT) Pentagon chief says trilateral cooperation among S. Korea, U.S., Japan enhances 'all of our security'
Actor Song joong-ki announces marriage and wife's pregnancy