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Additional FMD case discovered

South Korea confirmed a single case of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) on Saturday in the country’s southeastern region, as nationwide vaccinations and quarantine efforts have started to help stem new outbreaks.

The additional case in Cheongsong, 285 kilometers southeast of Seoul, brings the total number of confirmed FMD outbreaks to 119, since animals started showing symptoms in late November, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said. There have been other confirmed cases of animal disease outbreak but they are not counted because the animals were culled before test results were completed.

All 30 animals on the small cattle farm have been ordered destroyed along with livestock within a 500-meter radius of the site to prevent further spread of the disease, the ministry said.

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 Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, although it is harmless to humans.

The disease, meanwhile, forced Seoul to cull and bury 1.6 million heads of cattle, pigs, goats and deer with damage estimated to run to around 1.5 trillion won (US$1.34 billion).

The country had moved to vaccinate a limited number of animals on Dec. 25 after initial quarantine efforts proved inadequate to control the outbreak that has spread to most parts of the country.

Seoul said earlier in the week that it will vaccinate all livestock across the country, including those on Jeju Island off the country southwestern coast which had not been affected so far.

The country has some 3 million cattle, 10 million pigs and large numbers of other livestock that will need to receive shots.

In addition to the latest outbreaks that were first confirmed on Nov. 29, the country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times early last year.

(Yonhap News)