The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Tuesday that about 50 cows at the farm in North Jeolla Province were confirmed to have contracted the virus. All infected livestock were culled.
According to the investigation, the affected cows had been infected by the O-type strain of foot and mouth, the most common type of the disease here, but were carrying a new mutation that had not been detected in Korea before.
Authorities said that the genotype was 99.4 percent similar to the virus that has appeared in Thailand and Vietnam, while they are still looking into movements by workers and animals at the farm in question to find out how the infection was picket up.
Meanwhile, the ministry said it looked into the result of the sample inspections and found that only 5 percent of the cows in the disease-hit region had antibodies against the foot and mouth virus.
“The owners said that they had been negligent in vaccinating their cows to save money,” said the ministry official Kim Kyung-gyu.
“Some said that (they skipped vaccination) thinking the vaccine injection may cause cows to suffer miscarriages,” he added.
The ministry said that, typically, 97.5 percent of cattle develop antibodies against the virus if given regular vaccinations.
“It is true that the authorities’ sampling inspections were less concentrated on cows, as we have only seen more infection cases among pigs, so the ministry is considering changing the current inspection method,” said Kim, adding that the ministry would immediately vaccinate about 3 million more cattle.
As of Tuesday, around 102,000 cattle and pigs in Korea are in line to be vaccinated this week, as part of the government’s measures to prevent further spread of the disease. The government also raised the country’s foot and mouth watch level to “alert.”
By Kim Da-sol (firstname.lastname@example.org)