S Korea clear of foot-and-mouth disease: gov't

15:42, March 23, 2010      

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The South Korean government declared the country Tuesday is clear of foot-and-mouth disease ( FMD), after a series of outbreaks since January this year dented the domestic dairy industry.

"Despite unfavorable winter weather conditions, our strong quarantine measures helped root out the disease in 81 days," Park Hyun-chool, a farm ministry official, told reporters in a briefing, adding the FMD alert level has returned to the pre-outbreak level.

A total of 82 livestock markets nationwide, temporarily closed to stem further spread of the highly contagious disease, will be open again starting Tuesday, while restrictions on the movement of livestock are lifted, according the ministry.

If there is no additional outbreak by mid-June, South Korea would apply for the status as an FMD-free country with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and initiate discussions with dairy importers including China and Japan, the ministry said.

"In principle, resuming exports would be possible after we regain the FMD-free status in September, but the government would make efforts with other countries concerned to reopen exports as soon as possible," another farm ministry official told reporters.

The FMD is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that can affect cloven-hoofed animals including pigs, sheep and goats, while humans are hardly affected by the virus. The first outbreak in eight years came early January in a local cattle farm located in Pochen, Gyeonggi Province, about 45 kilometers north of Seoul.

Source: Xinhua
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