Swine fever fight kicks up a notch after typhoon

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Swine fever fight kicks up a notch after typhoon

After the heavy rain over the weekend, as Typhoon Tapah passed Korea, the government implemented nationwide disinfection measures against the spread of African swine fever (ASF) on Monday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it would ramp up disinfection out of concern that the measures conducted last week after two confirmed cases could have been washed away by the typhoon.

“Since there was a lot of rain nationwide, containment measures such as spraying disinfectants and quicklime must be swiftly raised to the highest level,” said Agriculture Minister Kim Hyeon-soo.

All 6,292 pig farms in the country were disinfected on Monday, with additional measures at or near farms in areas where there have been confirmed cases, Paju and Yeoncheon, both in Gyeonggi, and four other neighboring cities and counties - Gimpo, Cheorwon, Dongducheon and Pocheon.

All six areas have been designated as special management regions. The government will supply 640 tons of quicklime, or calcium oxide, for disinfection until today.

After confirmed cases last Tuesday and Wednesday, the government disinfected 17,783 farms and facilities nationwide and culled 13,643 pigs as of Saturday. The government has restricted visits to pig farms for treatment specialists and industry workers in the six special management regions.

An inspection on the two confirmed cases is currently underway to confirm whether they are related.

Fears of the virus spreading heightened Monday after suspicions of the deadly disease were reported at a farm in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, just 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) away from the outbreak site in Paju.

Four female pigs at the Gimpo farm, which has 1,800 pigs, exhibited symptoms of the disease, such as miscarriages and loss of appetite, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The virus was not confirmed as of press time.

The government has implemented emergency disinfection measures at the farm, including a lockdown.

If the virus is found at the farm, it would mean that the disease has spread past the Han River, which surrounds the Gimpo area and has served as a natural buffer, increasing concerns of the disease spreading further south.

The pig farms with confirmed cases are both 10 kilometers or less from North Korea, raising the possibility that virus-carrying pigs or wild boars north of the border are responsible for the latest cases. North Korea confirmed an outbreak of the virus in May.

BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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