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(LEAD) N. Korea's FMD outbreak spreads across country: report

All Headlines 15:04 February 13, 2011

(ATTN: ADDS with S. Korean response in paras 7-9)

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has spread across many parts of the country after the first case was confirmed in the capital city on Dec. 25, a U.S. broadcaster said Sunday.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), quoting a report by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, said the communist country confirmed that since the first case hit a small cattle farm in Pyongyang, the highly contagious animal disease has spread to at least five provinces.

While there are no reports of animals being culled and buried to control further spreading of the disease, North Korea said 11,165 animals have been infected so far. Of these, 8,640 pigs have died along with 15 cattle, it said.

RFA also said that quarantine authorities had moved to vaccinate animals, but the locally produced drugs used had little effect in slowing down the disease. It added that emergency quarantine measures have been ordered to combat the spread of the animal disease that can be transmitted through the air.

FMD affects all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo and is classified as a "List A" disease by the OIE.

Pyongyang first reported outbreaks to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization earlier in the week.

Related to the outbreaks in the North, Seoul said that it has tightened decontamination and inspections on cars and personnel coming over the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries. Belongings of people are being checked more thoroughly and decontaminated since they can carry the animal virus.

South Korean quarantine officials said the two transit offices along the eastern and western coasts have upgraded decontamination levels as of Friday, although no FMD outbreaks have been reported at the Kaesong industrial park and the Mount Kumgang resort.

Both the health ministry and the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service have checked procedures to make certain that tighter measures are followed, sources said.

The North Korean outbreaks, meanwhile, come as South Korea is trying to contain the severest FMD onslaught in its history. Seoul has ordered the culling of 3.30 million livestock, including 150,000 heads of cattle and 3.15 million pigs, since Nov. 29 when the first case was confirmed.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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