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North Korea seeks South's help on bird flu outbreak

by 5m Editor
8 April 2005, at 12:00am

NORTH KOREA - North Korea sought South Korea's help on Friday in combating a bird flu outbreak that has forced it to cull more than 210,000 chickens at two poultry farms in its capital, a South Korean ministry official said.

North Korea seeks South's help on bird flu outbreak - NORTH KOREA - North Korea sought South Korea's help on Friday in combating a bird flu outbreak that has forced it to cull more than 210,000 chickens at two poultry farms in its capital, a South Korean ministry official said.

North Korea asked for equipment and medicine. It expressed gratitude for the South's offer of help, which was made shortly after Pyongyang announced the outbreak on March 27, the Unification Ministry said.

"There was no information on whether there was human infection," ministry spokesman Kim Hong-jae said by telephone.

The request gave no details fo what supplies it needed, and the South would consult with the North on the nature of the assistance, the timing of the shipment and the route it would take, Kim Hong-jae said.

The North suspected the infection might have been have caused by migratory birds originating in other countries, the ministry statement said.

A U.N. expert said earlier this week the North was battling the H7 strain, which has yet to be seen in Asia but can cause illness in humans. The H5N1, the other strain that can infect humans, has killed 50 people in Asia.

Hans Wagner, a top official with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, told Reuters on Tuesday after a week-long visit to the North that there were no indications of human infection in the reclusive state.

North Korea has asked the World Health Organisation to obtain reagents to test for cases of human influenza, if they arise, a WHO spokeswoman said.

WHO, which has an office in Pyongyang, is trying to obtain the testing devices, the spokeswoman said by telephone from the regional office for South-East Asia in India.

South Korea believes the outbreaks in the North are extensive. Most of the 25 million birds North Korea produces annually come from huge farms, one of the growing sectors in a country battling severe food shortages.

South Korea had 19 confirmed cases of the H5N1 strain, between December 2003 and March 2004, but no human infections were reported.

Source: Reuters - 8th April 2005

5m Editor