3 more farms in Boeun catch foot-and-mouth

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3 more farms in Boeun catch foot-and-mouth

Three more farms were declared infected Tuesday with foot-and-mouth disease, raising the total number to nine.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, all three farms were in Boeun, North Chungcheong, where the outbreak of the highly contagious disease started more than a week ago.

Boeun is the hardest hit region in the outbreak, with seven of the nine farms testing positive for the disease. The other two farms are in Jeongup, North Jeolla, and Yeoncheon, Gyeonggi.

The spread of the disease seems to be picking up momentum despite the government’s attempts to contain it.

The Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency last Thursday raised the alert for the outbreak to its highest level and has completed 99.4 percent of vaccinations on cattle farms. It also extended a travel ban on livestock until Feb. 20 while sending in teams to perform additional sanitation procedures in regions affected by the disease. The government has also imported additional vaccines against type A strain. Among the nine farms, Yeoncheon is the only farm that is infected with type A, which is rarer than type O.

Since the first foot-and-mouth disease case was confirmed on Feb. 5, the government has culled 1,213 cows from 20 farms.

Currently no pig farm has caught the disease. The government said it is constantly monitoring the situation, as pigs are more vulnerable than cows.

The government said it has confirmed that the owner of the Yeoncheon farm visited Vietnam in September and the type A strain found on his farm matched the virus that affected farms in Vietnam and Myanmar last year. The virus can be carried in animal excrement stuck on someone’s shoe and it can live up to 6 months in the excrement.

The government meanwhile has decided to up its financial aid for foot-and-mouth-affected farms.

“We will first compensate the farms that culled cattle because of the foot-and-mouth disease at a 50 percent level,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho while visiting the farm in Jeongeup on Monday. “And we will finance all of the costs of buying the vaccines.”

He said the compensation for vaccinations will also include farms with less than 50 cattle. Under the law, farms with more than 50 cattle are required to vaccinate them. The central government will cover 70 percent of the vaccination bill while the local government will pick up the remaining amount.

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