Farm travel banned on new outbreak

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Farm travel banned on new outbreak

The government on Monday imposed a 30-hour nationwide travel ban on all livestock farms as the emergency level on foot-and-mouth disease was raised after a second case was confirmed just a day after the first. The cases are the first in 10 months.

This is the first time that the government has ordered a nationwide standstill related to the infectious livestock disease, which can be fatal for hoofed animals such as cows, pigs and sheep.

“Initially we were planning on ordering a standstill only in North Chungcheong [where the first foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed],” said Lee Cheon-il, the agriculture ministry’s livestock product policy director. “But after a report suspecting the disease at a farm in Jeongeup [North Jeolla] came in, we decided to expand it nationwide.”

Lee said the decision was to preemptively act targeted at containing the disease as the second case was spotted in Jeongeup, which is more than 100 kilometers away from Boeun where the first case was confirmed.

The travel ban prohibits all people and vehicles from moving in and out of the livestock farms, including delivering dairy products. It also bans the movement of related businesses, including slaughterhouses and factories that manufacture feed.

The government also said it is vaccinating all 3.3 million cattle that are being raised in the country.

The farm in Jeongeup reported early Monday that among the 48 hanwoo cattle, six were showing suspicious signs of foot-and-mouth disease including constant drooling.

On Sunday, 195 cattle were slaughtered at the farm in Boeun where the first animals tested positive with foot-and-mouth disease.

According to the government, as of December, 97.5 percent of the vaccinated cattle have formed immunity against the disease while 75.7 percent of the pigs showed similar results. However, the government is weighing the possibility that the two farms that tested positive in the last two days may not have properly vaccinated their livestock. This foot-and-mouth disease spread follows the bird flu epidemic that started in November.

Since the bird flu has spread to farms, more than 30 million birds including chickens and ducks have been buried. This has resulted in a significant shortage of eggs. The government recently imported eggs for the first time after prices rose sharply.

Foot-and-mouth disease has also had a huge impact in the past. The last time the country was heavily hit by the disease was between late 2010 and April 2011. The economic damage caused by the spread of the disease was estimated to be worth 3 trillion won ($2.65 million) as 3.5 million livestock were killed. Additionally the government spent 2.87 trillion won compensating the farms and providing financial subsidies for those that were affected as well as sanitation efforts.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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