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Foot-and-Mouth Disease Spreading Fast

02 December 2010

SOUTH KOREA - Three more cattle farms in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, were found to have been infected with the deadly foot-and-mouth disease Thursday, sparking fears that livestock farms in other parts of the country could be hit by the highly contagious virus soon.

On Monday, the disease was first detected on two pig farms in Andong, about half a year after the last epidemic broke out in Korea. A cattle farm in the area also fell victim to the animal disease the following day.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirmed three more cases of foot-and-mouth disease Thursday and decided to cull all the animals at the farms and others at nearby places to stem the spread of the virus to other regions. Over 800 cows and pigs within a 500 meter radius of the infected farms were killed and buried underground.

The fatal disease affects cloven-hoofed animals, mostly domesticated ones such as cattle, goats, pigs, deer and sheep. Preventative vaccinations are difficult because the virus continually evolves and mutates.

"Three suspected cases were reported Wednesday, near the pig farms where the first outbreak was reported. The laboratory tests today showed that all three cattle farms were infected with the disease," a ministry official said.

Two newly infected cattle farms were less than 4 kilometers away from the two pig farms, while the third one was only 2.5 kilometers away.

The ministry also said another cattle farm in Andong reported suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease on its livestock Thursday, indicating the disease will likely continue to spread across the city and possibly beyond.

Thursday’s confirmations raised the number of contagious livestock farms to six, with more than 53,000 livestock culled and buried. The government culled more than 33,000 animals near the affected farms Monday alone under its disease prevention program.

Additionally, all 84 livestock markets across the nation were closed Wednesday for an indefinite period to prevent spread of the disease.

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Source: The Korea Times


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