SEOUL, May 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The South Korean government said Friday it has found no evidence of avian influenza among birds in areas just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas.
The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said extensive tests of wild birds and their droppings had found no traces of the disease in nearby regions.
Wild birds can catch the avian influenza virus from infected birds. The disease can be transmitted to humans, but no fatalities have ever been reported in South Korea.
The service under the Agriculture Ministry said it set up a special task force after North Korea formally announced an outbreak of the deadly avian virus on March 27.
Pyongyang, which reportedly destroyed a large number of birds, has requested assistance from Seoul to provide it with disinfectants and detection equipment.
South Korea banned the import of all poultry from North Korea in mid-March after there was strong evidence of a bird flu outbreak in the reclusive country.
Seoul also stepped up efforts to prevent the virus from entering the country by conducting extensive decontamination efforts at checkpoints used by civilians to move to and from North Korea and at major harbors.
The quarantine service said it will continue to monitor areas south of the DMZ to detect any signs of the bird flu virus.
Seoul usually issues bird flu outbreak alerts in late fall to early spring because migratory birds can spread the virus during their transit over the country. Enditem