FMD recurs, days after alert lowered

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FMD recurs, days after alert lowered

Just 27 days after the central government completed livestock culls to stop foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), and five days after it lowered the alert level, the highly contagious disease has broken out once again at a pig farm in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang.

According to the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the farm, with 67 pigs, was confirmed yesterday to be positive for the FMD virus by the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service. All of the farm’s pigs had been vaccinated.

The owner of the farm reported Saturday afternoon that some of his animals were limping slightly. He said 10 pigs had already died without clear reasons.

The ministry said the virus found yesterday, serotype O, was the same one that the central government has been vaccinating against for months.

The ministry said the national veterinary service will investigate why FMD broke out at a farm where all the animals were vaccinated in February.

“Even though animals are vaccinated, farmers could have done it in a wrong way or some animals could have immunity against the vaccine,” a ministry official said.

Another ministry official said, “In the upcoming future, the disease could break out sporadically around the previously FMD-infected regions.”

Right after the outbreak, the North Gyeongsang Provincial Government immediately culled six infected pigs at the farm and took emergency measures inside and outside the contagious farm, such as spraying disinfectant.

The outbreak yesterday was just five days after the ministry lowered the alert level from “warning” to “caution” and said, “the FMD crisis is actually over. Within one or two weeks, we expect the crisis to settle down.”

A 57-year-old livestock farmer in Yeongcheon who lives near the infected farm said, “I have always been worried about the recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease, even though I vaccinated my animals. Now I feel frustrated by the outbreak and worried if it will take more time to normalize the livestock market.”

Another livestock farmer, 64, who raises about 100 pigs nearby, said, “I have been suffering from financial difficulties due to FMD, but now it broke out again. I don’t know what to do now.”

Meanwhile, a poultry farm in Yeongcheon, where about 17,000 chickens are being raised, was confirmed to be positive for avian influenza A (AI) after the owner reported the deaths of 46 chickens.

The farm, located 700 meters (0.4 miles) from a poultry farm where AI flu broke out on April 5, uses the same routes to deliver animals and feed, which could have led to the infection, quarantine officials assume.

Since the first FMD outbreak on Nov. 28 in Andong, North Gyeongsang, the viral disease rapidly spread throughout the nation, except for Jeolla and Jeju.

In an effort to contain the disease, the central government killed more than 3.5 million animals infected with foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza at 4,133 disposal sites. Officials also vaccinated more than 11.7 million animals nationwide. Experts estimate that about 3 trillion won ($2.75 billion) in state funds was spend to far to fight FMD.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


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