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Fresh bird flu strain confirmed in southern South Korea

   DAMYANG -- About 1,000 ducks found dead earlier this week at a farm in southern South Korea were confirmed Saturday to have been infected with a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza, raising concern that the lethal virus is spreading in the country, officials said.

   The H5A1 virus was found on the duck farm in Damyang county of South Jeolla Province, about 350 kilometers south of Seoul, quarantine officials said. 

   It was the 46th confirmed bird flu outbreak in the country since the first case was reported on Dec. 29. In the past two months, a record 5.5 million birds have been culled.

   Quarantine officials at the province said they have been slaughtering about 13,000 ducks at poultry farms in Damyang to try to contain the spread of the virus.

   "We are reinforcing quarantine measures to prevent the avian influenza from spreading here," said an official at the South Jeolla provincial government.

   The spreading bird disease is a double whammy for South Korea which has been battling what many officials say is the worst-ever outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

(Yonhap News)