Foot-and-mouth spreading rapidly

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Foot-and-mouth spreading rapidly

Foot-and-mouth disease is spreading rapidly, as four more livestock farms in Andong, North Gyeongsang were confirmed to have cases of the virus yesterday, according to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. That brings the number of FMD-infected farms to nine.

“Two cattle farms in Seohu Township, one cattle farm in Bukhu Township and one hog farm in Waryong Township were found to be FMD- positive,” the ministry said.

The four farms are on the cusp of breaking the 10-kilometer boundary from the initial site of the outbreak.

The good news is that the two cattle farms in Pungcheon Township in Andong and Cheongsong County, where the disease was discovered on Monday, are now FMD free, the ministry said, as is an area within a 27- and 46-kilometer radius from the farms, where suspicions of the virus were reported on Thursday.

To quell the further spread of the disease, health officials will cull 99 cattle and 4,000 pigs from the four farms, as well as 614 cows bred within a 500-meter radius from these farms. According to the ministry’s quarantine guidelines, all pigs within a 3-kilometer radius of the four farms are to be slaughtered as well.

More than 58,000 heads of livestock were to be slaughtered as of yesterday; the animals are from 179 farms. Around 28,000 heads of livestock have already been slaughtered.

So far, 21 suspected cases of FMD have been reported. A total of nine cases have been confirmed as negative for the virus while three were said to be negative. A determination on the other nine cases is pending.

Meanwhile, another livestock farm in Andong reported suspicions of FMD in sheep and goats on Thursday, the first case apart from cows and pigs. If positive, it will mean the spread of the virus is omnidirectional.

FMD is not a zoonotic disease, which can be transmitted from animals to humans or vice versa. The virus cannot survive temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius and over.

Demand for domestic meat is likely to dwindle from the recent spate of outbreaks. “Although the price of meat has not fluctuated since the outbreak of FMD, consumers are asking whether it is safe to eat meat,” said an employee at a grocery store in Daegu.


By Yoo Sun-young, Suh Kyoung-ho [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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