SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- Hundreds of soldiers and civilian hunters will be deployed to areas bordering North Korea for operations to shoot and kill wild boars in an effort to prevent the possible spread of African swine fever (ASF), the defense ministry said Tuesday.
The measure comes after a total of six wild boars have been found dead north of Seoul this month amid speculation that the highly contagious virus may have traveled from the North, which reported its outbreak a few months ago.
Around 70 to 80 teams, each comprised of about 12 military officers, civilian hunters and quarantine officials, were to be sent to such border towns as Paju and Yeoncheon in Gyeonggi Province and Cheorwon and Goseong in Gangwon Province to hunt down the animals with guns and traps, according to the ministry.
South Korea so far has reported 14 ASF cases, with the first one being confirmed in mid-September. So far, all of the outbreaks have been found in those border towns.
After conducting the operation for 48 hours starting later in the day on a trial basis, the ministry will decide whether to fully implement the measure after assessing safety and effectiveness, the ministry added.
"The hunting operations will be conducted under the instruction of military corps commanders of each region by putting top priority on the safety of service personnel and local residents," the ministry said in a release, vowing to "take every possible and necessary measure to contain the ASF virus."
The virus is harmless to humans but is highly contagious and fatal for pigs. There is no cure or vaccine, and the only known way to prevent the disease from spreading is the culling of affected livestock or animals that were likely exposed to the virus.
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