FMD still not abating, new bird flu culls ordered

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FMD still not abating, new bird flu culls ordered

Korea has confirmed two more foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks despite quarantine efforts and wholesale vaccination of livestock, the government said Tuesday.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said pig farms in Gimhae and Gongju, 450 kilometers (280 miles) and 160 kilometers south of Seoul, respectively, tested positive for the highly contagious animal disease.

The outbreak in Gimhae is the second confirmed case in South Gyeongsang and a clear sign that FMD has spread nationwide. Six provinces and two large cities have had confirmed cases of the disease since the first outbreak was reported on Nov. 29.

With the exception of some breeding sows that received vaccines more than two weeks ago, all 8,188 animals will be culled at the farms to stop the spread of the disease, the ministry said.

But no animals at nearby farms will be slaughtered in accordance with updated quarantine rules announced last week that reflect an ongoing nationwide vaccination effort that should be complete by the end of January.

Seoul started inoculating a limited number of cattle on Dec. 25 and expanded this to all pigs and cows in the country after existing quarantine efforts failed to stem the outbreak. More than 2.62 million cows, pigs, goats and deer have been culled and buried at a cost of over 2.5 trillion won ($2.2 billion). The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times early last year.

The ministry, meanwhile, confirmed two new bird flu outbreaks late Monday, with one case involving an egg-laying chicken farm in Sangju, North Gyeongsang, which had not been affected by the avian influenza in the past.

All 201,000 chickens at the Sangju farm have been ordered culled along with 8,300 ducks at a farm in Icheon, Gyeonggi.

Counting the new cases, the country has reported 37 outbreaks since the first was confirmed on Dec. 31. And 5.15 million birds have been culled so far.

Korea has been hit by avian influenza three times before. The last outbreak occurred in April 2008 and resulted in a record 8.46 million birds being culled at a cost of around 264 billion won. Previous outbreaks happened in the winter months of 2003-2004 and 2006-2007.

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