South Korea battles foot-and-mouth disease

Tuesday 18 January 2011 17.33
Foot-and-mouth disease - Animals culled in South Korea
Foot-and-mouth disease - Animals culled in South Korea

Authorities in South Korea have said about 15% of its combined pig and cattle stock have been destroyed to contain outbreaks of foot-and-mouth.

3% of its poultry population has been slaughtered because of bird flu.

The country's agriculture ministry said 2.1m animals, mostly pigs, and 3.6m poultry, mostly chicken, had been culled.

An official statement said the South Korean government set a policy to minimise slaughter against foot-and-mouth, while utilising vaccination to prevent the disease.

The nationwide outbreaks of foot-and-mouth originated in pigs in the city of Andong in North Gyeongsang province on 28 November.

‘The government set a policy to minimise slaughter against foot-and-mouth, while utilising vaccination to prevent the disease,’ a statement from the presidential office on Sunday said.

‘Through the disinfection, I hope there will be fruitful outcomes before the Lunar New Year holidays,’ he said, referring to the country's biggest holidays when local meat demand usually peaks and the largest number of people move around for family reunions.

On top of the serious outbreaks of foot-and-mouth, South Korea also confirmed the first case of bird flu on 31 December in ducks in the city of Cheonan, in South Chungcheong province, and in chickens in the city of Iksan in North Jeolla province.

The country has no human cases of bird flu. Foot-and-mouth disease affects livestock including sheep, cows and pigs, while meat from infected animals is not harmful to humans.