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S. Korea mulls development of foot-and-mouth disease vaccine

All Headlines 07:45 January 24, 2011

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- Signaling a more proactive approach to preventing massive outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that his administration is considering the local production of anti-FMD vaccines.

"For now, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are the only countries manufacturing internationally approved vaccines. But the government will actively review the possibility of producing vaccines in Korea," Lee said in his biweekly radio address. "By carrying out vaccinations, we will be able to prevent this kind of serious damage from reoccurring."

The FMD endemic has swept across South Korea in recent weeks, forcing the nation to cull about 130,000 heads of cattle and more than 2 million swine.

"I came to realize that our country is no longer immune to the extensive harm wreaked by foot-and-mouth disease," the president said.

He also pointed out that South Korea has become more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease as more than 20 million people travel in and out of the country each year. More than 8 million people shuttle back and forth between South Korea and Asian nations where FMD constantly occurs.

"Under these conditions, the effect of quarantine measures cannot but be limited," Lee said. "The outbreak of FMD this time has also followed in the wake of an overseas group tour by those working in the livestock industry. Considering all these circumstances, vaccination is the best policy."

Owing to emergency measures to vaccinate livestock, the spread of the disease is showing signs of slowing. South Korea has secured vaccines for 12 million heads of livestock across the nation.

"By the end of this month, the first round of vaccinations of cattle and swine will have been completed," he said. "It is thus expected that the outbreak will be somewhat eased in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holidays" next week.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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