S. Korea reports more outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease

19:29, January 06, 2011      

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South Korea confirmed four additional cases of foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease Thursday, despite nationwide quarantine efforts.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said three additional cases of the highly contagious disease were reported in the Chungcheong region in the central part of the country, along with one outbreak in Gyeonggi Province near Seoul.

A total of 55,731 pigs and 10 heads of cattle, as well as animals within a 500-meter radius of the affected farms, have been culled as a precautionary measure, according to the ministry.

The ministry, meanwhile, has decided to expand vaccination in the face of the rampant spread of the disease across the country. It said vaccines will be administered to nearly 210,000 pigs. Only cattle have been the subject of vaccination in an effort to limit the use of vaccines, as the measure can cause a delay in regaining the country's FMD-free status from the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Over 1.2 million cattle have been given shots since Dec. 25.

Earlier in the day, President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting with relevant ministers and called on his government to devise "fundamental measures" to stem the disease.

"Every year, about 15 million South Korean travelers go abroad and some 8 million foreigners visit South Korea," Lee said. " Considering the large number of international travelers, it is difficult to prevent (FMD) outbreaks simply by quarantine measures. Fundamental countermeasures, including antibodies, should be worked out."

In the wake of the severest outbreak of FMD in the history, the country has culled nearly 1 million animals so far.

The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times early last year.

Source: Xinhua
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