South Korean FMD outbreak spreads

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea's worst foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak continues to spread, despite infusing massive resources. This outbreak is threatening to turn into a social and economic disaster.

The FMD outbreak began on Nov. 28 on a farm at Andong, in the eastern province of North Gyeongsang, according to the Guardian. Last week a new case was confirmed, with 114 centers of infection spread over almost half the country. About 1.4 million animals, primarily hogs and cows – accounting for 8% of total livestock – have been euthanized as a result.

Travel restrictions have been imposed by the government and a strict quarantine is in place, closing cattle markets and some zoos. Approximately 68,000 soldiers have been activated to assist regional forces involved in culling the livestock. Since Christmas, more than 2 million head of cattle have been vaccinated.

As a result of the outbreak, meat prices in that country have been skyrocketing, adding to heavy inflation on food prices, coinciding with the preparations for lunar New Year festivities on Feb. 3. Meat exports are likely to suffer long-term declines.

In South Korea, problems have been compounded since the end of December by the return of avian H5N1 flu. Seven cases have been identified, the latest in the province of South Jeolla. More than 400,000 head of poultry have been destroyed.

Meanwhile, ABC Online reports there are indications North Korea is also suffering from an FMD outbreak, which threatens to worsen its current food shortages.

One South Korean intelligence official told a S. Korean newspaper North Korea is unable to carry out quarantine and sanitation efforts because of a lack of medicine and equipment. The outbreak may take a toll on North Korea's military, which raises livestock to feed its troops. North Korea has been suffering from persistent food shortages and its citizens may be eating infected cattle and pigs instead of burying them, the report said.
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