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Published : 2014-07-24 21:28
Updated : 2014-07-24 21:50

The quarantine authorities began slaughtering some 600 pigs in North Gyeongsang Province on Thursday in the first foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Korea since April 2011.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday confirmed FMD as the cause of the symptoms reported at a pig farm in Uiseong Country, North Gyeongsang Province.
An official sprays disinfectant at a checkpoint in Uiseong, North Gyeongsang Province, where the first case of foot-and-mouth disease since the April 2011 outbreak was confirmed on Thursday. About 600 pigs were slaughtered at the Uiseong farm, and the authorities launched a multi-organization response to contain the outbreak. (Yonhap)

The farm reported that about 200 of its 1,500 pigs were showing FMD-like symptoms including blisters and hoofs becoming detached on the previous day. Of the farm’s 1,500 animals, 600 showing symptoms of FMD were slaughtered. The remaining 900 pigs, however, have yet to develop symptoms, indicating that the affected animals were not vaccinated, the authorities said.

Movement of livestock and vehicles to and from the farm has also been restricted. Further measures will be taken after the remaining animals are tested.

According to the ministry, the outbreak was caused by the type-O FMD virus, and the affected animals were likely not vaccinated. The ministry added that as the country’s livestock vaccination program covers types O, A and Asia 1, the outbreak is unlikely to spread further.

There are no other livestock farms within a 500-meter radius of the farm. About 220 cattle and 830 pigs are raised at 19 farms within a 3-kilometer radius of the point of FMD outbreak.

The authorities, nonetheless, launched a coordinated effort to prevent the disease from spreading. Local governments, quarantine authorities and concerned industry organizations were advised to step up preventative measures including disinfections of facilities and vaccination of livestock.

The North Gyeongsang provincial government established a central response center and three mobile disinfection stations across Euseong County. The provincial government was also said to be considering setting up additional disinfection stations across the province as necessary.

Korea’s most recent case of FMD was in April 2011, and the World Organization for Animal Health declared it free of the disease the next month. During the 2010-2011 outbreak, about 3.5 million cattle and pigs were slaughtered.

The FMD-free status had fueled hopes for increasing exports of livestock products.

At the time the government had announced that plans would be drawn up for making Korea an FMD-free country without vaccinations.

In order to be declared FMD-free with a vaccination program in place, a country must have no FMD cases for two years. In addition, more than 80 percent of relevant livestock must be subjected to regular vaccinations.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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