North Korea to preclude potential outbreak of bird flu

North Korea said Friday it was accelerating efforts to prevent a potential outbreak of bird flu, rewriting national strategies to ward off and fight the deadly disease in a more effective manner. North Korea has been on alert against bird flu with a spate of fresh outbreaks reported abroad, including in neighboring China. Earlier this week, Beijing reported its first human death from the lethal disease.

The North's national anti-epidemic measures committee, which issued an "emergency alert" last week, revised preventive measures and action plans to define the roles of central and regional organizations more clearly and ensure their cooperation, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

"Under these rules, preventive projects are under way across the country," it said.

The new regulations also call for measures to make sure that people are well aware of the danger of bird flu, and to discover and contain a potential outbreak as early as possible, the report said. It said education projects are under way.

Bird flu hit North Korea earlier this year, forcing the communist state to kill about 210,000 chickens and other poultry. In April, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the outbreak was successfully contained. No new cases of bird flu have since been reported.

Experts fear the H5N1 variety of the bird flu virus that is sweeping through Asia could mutate into a form easily passed between humans, causing a global pandemic. The virulent strain has killed at least 67 people in Asia since 2003, and resulted in the death or destruction of millions of birds, reports the AP. I.L.

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