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(LEAD) Seoul tightens quarantine against potential swine fever outbreak

North Korea 14:35 June 05, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 8-14)

SEJONG, June 5 (Yonhap) -- Pig farms in areas bordering North Korea have installed fences and taken other measures to prevent a possible transmission of African swine fever, after the North reported an outbreak of the disease last week, Seoul's agriculture ministry said Wednesday.

South Korea has been on a high alert since North Korea told the World Organization for Animal Health that pigs had died from the highly contagious disease at a farm on its border with China.

Blood tests have been conducted at 347 pig farms in Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces along the border with North Korea, but they were negative, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

(LEAD) Seoul tightens quarantine against potential swine fever outbreak - 1

Of the 347 farms, 232 have built fences to prevent possible contact between their pig herds and wild boars.

The ministry said it has ordered the remaining 115 farms to swiftly install fences.

Ten cleaning and disinfection facilities will be set up at regions near the border by Wednesday, and all vehicles transporting pigs in the border areas will be sterilized, the ministry said.

The ministry said it will carry out a comprehensive sterilization of all pig farms in South Korea on Monday.

The government also decided to expand the number of areas subject to special monitoring for African swine fever to 14 from the current 10, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

Four cities in north Gyeonggi Province, including Goyang and Yangju, were added to the list.

The special zones will house control towers to monitor the disease and sterilization facilities. Blood tests at all pig farms in the areas will be conducted.

The government said it will ban 173 pig farms from using leftover food as animal feed as the move is considered one of the causes for the outbreak.

In June, the country will check and disinfect around 6,300 pig farms nationwide and launch the operation of 46 regional disinfection facilities.

"The government will strengthen the implementation of disinfection," Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said at a meeting on state affairs.

"Not only in border areas, airports and ports should be closely checked. Government officials will also meticulously take actions to punish violators and collect and get rid of banned livestock products," he added.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that outbreaks of the disease in China may spread to other parts of Asia.

The FAO has recommended that Asian nations strengthen intra-regional networks on disease management and diagnostic protocol, and increase understanding of pig and pork value chains within countries and with neighboring countries as essential tasks for improved risk management.

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