The quarantine agency said Friday it has stepped up inspections at airports and seaports against the transfer of venomous fire ants that were turning up recently in South Korea.
Foods and plants coming in from Japan, China and Indonesia have been closely watched since last month, and people visiting or working at storage sites of such products are being notified of potential dangers from contact with the ants, the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency said.
Red ants and tropical ants, which are species of fire ants, carry venom that can cause shock symptoms in people bitten, including heavy nausea and respiratory problems. Some 80,000 people in North America are hurt by the ants every year, and 100 of them die, the agency said.
Fire ants have been discovered 34 times since 1996 at quarantine points in South Korea, it said. (Yonhap)