Foot and Mouth Disease spreading through parts of S. Korea

01/04/2011 19:34

Fron YonHapNews

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is spreading through South Korea's central region despite nationwide quarantine efforts, the government said Tuesday.

   The farm ministry and the local government confirmed a fresh outbreak at a pig farm in Goesan, 157 kilometers southeast of Seoul, after the animals started showing symptoms earlier in the week.

   The outbreak marks the second confirmed case for the land-locked Chungcheong province following the case reported at a nearby cattle farm in Chungju late last month.

   Quarantine authorities at that farm said they have ordered the culling and burial of all 2,700 animals and those within a 500-meter radius as a preventive measure.

   The spread of FMD in the Chungcheong region is a serious development since it could lead to the highly dangerous disease reaching the Jeolla region, which is one of the major production centers for beef.

   The latest FMD outbreak that began on Nov. 29, meanwhile, has spread through five provinces and Incheon, the country's second-largest seaport west of Seoul.

   There have been 83 confirmed cases, plus several others that were not officially counted because the animals were culled before the test results came in. Seoul has ordered the culling of over 778,850 animals on 2,769 farms so far with 700,000 livestock slated to receive vaccines.

   Vaccinations are only used as a last resort due to extra costs and because they slow down the process for the country regaining its "FMD-free status" from the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

   Seoul said Monday that it will expand the use of vaccines throughout the country to control the rapid spread of the animal disease.

   FMD is highly contagious and affects all cloven-hoofed animals, such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo. It is classified as a "List A" disease by the OIE, although it is harmless to humans.

   The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times early last year, with the recent outbreak being the most severe in the country's history.

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