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S. Korea reports 3 additional FMD outbreaks

All Headlines 10:27 December 31, 2010

SEOUL, Dec. 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea confirmed three additional foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks on Friday, despite a month-long quarantine effort to contain the highly contagious animal disease.

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said two cattle farms in North Gyeongsang Province in the country's southeastern region and one in Gyeonggi Province, just west of Seoul, tested positive for the highly contagious animal disease.

All 278 animals at the farms have been ordered culled and buried to prevent the spread of FMD, the ministry said, with livestock within a 500-meter radius of the outbreaks to be destroyed as a precautionary measure.

The outbreak at the Gyeongju farm is particularly worrisome because the city, 370 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is the single largest producer of cattle in the country.

The animals had been quarantined as of Thursday after some started to show symptoms like excessive drooling and loss of appetite.

The latest series of outbreaks, which began with the confirmation of an FMD case in Andong, 270km from the capital city on Nov. 29, is the most severe in South Korea's history. It has spread to four provinces and the port city of Incheon, west of Seoul.

The government has ordered the culling of more than 580,000 animals and the vaccination of 313,000 animals at 12,000 farms across the country. Total losses are estimated at over 520 billion won (US$463 million).

The country was hit by the disease in 2000, 2002 and two more times earlier this year.

Reflecting the grave situation, Seoul announced on Dec. 22 that it will start vaccinating cattle, and on Wednesday upgraded the country's quarantine alert level to "red" -- the highest in a four-tier response scale. A central crisis management headquarters has also be set up, with vaccination efforts spreading to parts of Gangwon Province.

FMD is highly contagious and affects all cloven-hoofed animals, such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo, although it is harmless to humans. It is classified as a "List A" disease by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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