A suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease was reported in North Chungcheong Province on Thursday, amid escalating concerns over the highly contagious animal disease spreading in the country ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday that a cattle farm in Chungju reported that a cow had showed symptoms of FMD, such as drooling and blisters.
As the cow tested positive for FMD in an initial inspection, quarantine authorities culled 11 cows in the farm and 38 cows living in two other farms near the affected area.
The first outbreak of FMD in 2019 was confirmed at a dairy farm in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Monday. The second case of FMD was found at a beef cattle farm about 10 kilometers away from the dairy farm Tuesday.
The authorities culled 297 cattle in the two farms and a total of 1,554 hoofed and even-toed animals living near the affected farms.
The quarantine authorities in Gyeonggi Province on Thursday completed vaccinations of cows and pigs in the region as part of efforts to prevent FMD from spreading nationwide ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Koreans are expected to travel to their hometowns.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday raised the alert to the second-highest level and rolled out measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
The authorities completed vaccinations of 467,000 animals at 1,982 farms in Anseong on Tuesday; 748,000 animals at 2,051 farms in Icheon, Yongin and Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on Wednesday; and 1,132,000 animals at 6,689 farms in 27 cities and counties across the country.
In addition, six livestock markets in Gyeonggi Province run by the National Livestock Cooperative Federation will be closed, while two designated slaughterhouses are being operated in the province by the quarantine authorities.
Disinfection of livestock farms was carried out nationwide Wednesday and is set to be held again on Feb. 7. The number of disinfection facilities in Gyeonggi Province was increased from 16 to 18.
Agriculture Minister Lee Gae-ho on Thursday called for thorough measures against the disease at an emergency meeting, saying the ministry plans to impose strong punishment on cattle farms that do not conduct proper disinfection or vaccination.
Under the current law, a farm that violates the FMD vaccination order will be fined up to 2 million won ($1,800) for the first offence, 4 million won for the second and 10 million won for the third. A farm that violates the duty of disinfection will be fined up to 500,000 won for the first offence.
FMD is a highly contagious disease of livestock that causes ulceration on animals’ hoofs and mouths. In 2010 and 2011, about 3.47 million cows and pigs in Korea were culled due to the spread of the disease.
“As FMD is not a disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals, and the infected animals are instantly culled, people can consume meat and products without anxiety,” Minister Lee said.
By Park Ju-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)