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ASF threatens South Chungcheong pig farm

Oct 07,2019
African swine fever (ASF) may have spread outside Gyeonggi, as a suspected case of the virus was reported in South Chungcheong on Sunday.

The case was not confirmed as of press time. If confirmed, that would bring the total number of infected sites to 14 and possibly put one in five pigs in Korea in danger of being culled.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced Sunday afternoon that a new suspected case was reported from a farm in Boryeong, South Chungcheong, which houses 12,000 pigs. The farm owner reported the case to officials after seven of its pigs died and showed possible signs of ASF.

There are three other pig farms with 5,000 pigs within a 500-meter (1,640-foot) radius of the farm and 41 farms with a total of 87,000 pigs within a 3-kilometer (1.24-mile) radius of the farm.

The Agriculture Ministry announced earlier in the morning that a new suspected case was reported by a farm in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, which houses 1,300 pigs. The farm owner reported the case to the city government after two of its pigs died and showed possible signs of ASF, but it was found that the pig farm in Pocheon tested negative for the virus at around 6 p.m.

Three farms in Paju, Gyeonggi, and one in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, were confirmed infected with ASF last week, leading to a total of 13 infected sites. The virus has so far been contained to counties and cities in northern Gyeonggi and Incheon - Gimpo, Paju, Yeoncheon County in Gyeonggi and Ganghwa County in Incheon.

If the virus is confirmed in South Chungcheong, the country’s largest pig raising province, it would mean that the government failed to contain the spread of ASF within Gyeonggi and put 21.4 percent of all pigs in Korea in danger of being culled.

South Chungcheong is currently home to 2.4 million of the total 11.3 million pigs in the country.

Korea has been implementing disinfection efforts to stem the outbreak of ASF, including extending a lockdown on northern areas of the country and culling more pigs as part of preventive measures.

The country has been culling all pigs within a 3-kilometer radius of infected farms as culling is the only way that would prevent spread of the virus with no known cure at this point.

Korea culled more than 130,000 pigs by Sunday morning and the figure is believed to soon surpass 150,000 after the remaining pigs are slaughtered.

The government also started using helicopters on Friday to disinfect the northern border area to combat the spread of ASF after it found a wild boar carcass infected with the virus in the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]


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