South Korea confirmed five additional foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks at two beef cattle farms and a milk cattle farm in provincial areas on Sunday despite nationwide quarantine efforts to contain the spread of the highly contagious animal disease, provincial government officials said.
The South Chungcheong provincial government said two milk cows at a farm in the central city of Cheonan, 92 kilometers south of Seoul, have tested positive for FMD.
All 50 animals at the dairy farm have been ordered culled and buried to prevent the spread of FMD, the regional government said, with livestock within a 10km radius of the outbreak not to be moved as a precautionary measure.
A beef cattle farm in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province, just southwest of Seoul, was also affected by the animal epidemic, raising fears over potential contagion in Seoul and its vicinity.
All 74 beef cows at the farm were ordered to be destroyed and movement of livestock in or out of the area was prohibited, the FMD control center of Gyeonggi Province said.
Another beef cattle farm in Gangwon Province also tested positive for the contagious disease.
All cloven-hoofed and even-toed mammals in a 500-meter radius of the cattle farm located in Gangneung, 238km west of Seoul, were ordered to be culled as part of preventive measures, the Gangwon provincial government said.
The latest tally came after the first outbreak was confirmed in Andong, 270 kilometers from Seoul, on Nov. 29 and in the severest outbreak in the country's history.
Seoul reported a total of 67 cases, along with several others that are not included in the official FMD tally because the animals were destroyed before test results were verified, in four provinces and the city of Incheon, west of Seoul.
More than 643,000 animals have been ordered culled, and the vaccination of 361,000 animals at 14,000 farms across the country is under way to stem the disease's spread, with losses estimated at well over 520 billion won (US$463 million).
The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times last year.
Reflecting the grave situation, Seoul announced on Dec. 22 that it would start vaccinating cattle and upgraded the country's quarantine alert level to "red" -- the highest in a four-tier response scale. The government has also set up headquarters for central crisis management.
FMD is highly contagious and affects all cloven-hoofed animals, such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo, although it is harmless to humans. It is classified as a "List A" disease by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.