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Foot-and-Mouth Disease Alert Raised to Warning

Posted April. 12, 2010 02:44,   


The government and the livestock industry went on alert yesterday because of a rapidly spreading foot-and mouse disease outbreak that originated in Ganghwa County in Incheon.

The alert level on livestock disease was raised from “cautious” to “warning,” and most farms in Ganghwa were culling their livestock to prevent spread of the contagious disease. This is the first time that the government has issued a warning alert for the disease.

The Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said cattle at five of the six farms that notified the government of suspicious symptoms were confirmed to be infected with the disease.

“Since an outbreak of the disease on a cattle farm in Ganghwa County Thursday, four cattle farms and a pig farm reported outbreaks, and outbreaks at four of the five farms were confirmed,” a ministry official said.

“Preventive culling is underway at farms whose livestock were confirmed to be infected with the disease.”

In an emergency meeting Saturday, the government expanded the slaughtering area to a three-kilometer radius of the affected farm from 500 meters in an unprecedented move.

The alert system for livestock has four levels – attention, caution, warning and serious -- with “serious” being the highest. The government had issued a warning alert in 2008 amid a massive outbreak of bird flu, the worst in Korea’s history.

On the warning alert, a ministry official said, “We raised the alert level since the pace of the spread is fast and pigs are infected with the disease unlike in the January outbreak. We are culling a combined 25,800 cloven-hoofed animals at 211 farms within three kilometers of the affected farms, including 5,700 cows and 18,800 pigs.”

The disease spreads among pigs 3,000 times faster than among other animals. Pigs were not affected by the disease in 2000 and January this year, but were in 2002, leading to a protracted outbreak for a record 52 days.