Fourth African swine fever case reported

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Fourth African swine fever case reported

The government confirmed the fourth case of African swine fever (ASF) in Korea just a week after the outbreak was originally reported, heightening fears that the deadly disease is spreading despite containment measures.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Tuesday that it confirmed a further case of the virus at a farm in Paju, Gyeonggi, 26.3 kilometers (16.3 miles) away from the outbreak site last week, and around 7 kilometers away from the site of the second confirmed case in Yeoncheon County.

The latest Paju farm, which has 2,300 pigs, had reported three female pigs with miscarriages, a symptom of ASF, on Monday.

The announcement follows confirmation of the disease at a pig farm in Gimpo just a day earlier.

The latest confirmed cases highlight that containment efforts such as a 48-hour lockdown from last Tuesday and nationwide disinfection could have been ineffective as the virus may have spread during its incubation period of 19 days.

The government said that feed and slaughterhouse vehicles had travelled between the outbreak site and the three other farms in the past three weeks, although it could not confirm whether the vehicles caused the spread of the virus.

The Gimpo case confirmed yesterday also marks the first time the disease has been reported south of the Han River, which some experts had hoped would act as a natural barrier, containing the disease.

The government is currently in the process of culling 4,100 pigs at the farms in Paju and Gimpo, and also pig farms in a 3-kilometer radius of the two sites. Nearly 20,000 pigs have been culled in the past week, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

It has also ordered a new 48-hour lockdown on pig farms, slaughter houses and feed factories in the Gyeonggi, Incheon and Gangwon areas since 7:30 p.m. on Monday, and is conducting nationwide disinfection at pig farms.

ASF has a fatality rate of 80 to 100 percent for pigs, although it is harmless to humans.


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

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