As more FMD cases occur, gov’t takes more actions

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As more FMD cases occur, gov’t takes more actions

The government increased its alert after more suspicious cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) were found over the weekend outside of Andong, the epicenter of the outbreak.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said yesterday that three suspicious cases were reported Saturday in Yecheon and Yeongju, North Gyeongsang, 21 kilometers (13 miles) from the epicenter.

A farm in Daegu, 75 kilometers from the epicenter, reported that its cattle had suspicious symptoms of the disease.

“We will form an emergency inspection team [today] to check quarantine conditions in local governments and take preventive measures against further outbreaks,” an official at the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Until now, 27 farms were confirmed positive after five farms in Andong were added to the list yesterday. All of the confirmed cattle cases so far were reported within 20 kilometers of Andong.

The government said it will order farms close to the outbreaks to destroy their livestock and will give them financial aid.

The government also stepped up quarantine services at airports and harbors as well as shutting down highways leading to the epicenter.

The government has scrambled to prevent the virus from spreading outside of the epicenter, because the highly contagious airborne disease could easily expand nationwide. The incubation period of the disease is one to two weeks.

“Considering the incubation period of the FMD virus, [this week] is the [critical] point to prevent the disease from spreading,” Kim Kwan-yong, governor of the North Gyeongsang Provincial Office, said yesterday.

The provincial office said it expanded the number of quarantine posts from 167 to 250 and sent 300 officials to the posts on 24-hour assistance. It also formed a special team for slaughtering infected cattle.

About 62,000 cattle were slaughtered as of yesterday; in April about 47,000 were destroyed in Gimpo and Ganghwa, Gyeonggi. The government still has 13,000 more cattle to slaughter.

About 160,000 cattle were slaughtered in 2002 in Anseong and Yongin, Gyeonggi, the largest number ever slaughtered.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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