Foot and mouth disease outbreak in South Korea

South Korea is facing an outbreak of foot and mouth disease reported Seoul’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that can affect cloven-hoofed animals including pigs, sheep, cattle, deer and goats. Humans are usually not affected. The three most recent cases take the total number reported in South Korea to 56 with more than 400,000 animals destroyed since November 29.

A ministry official said, “About 389,000 animals have been or will soon be culled around the country… numerically, this is the worst outbreak we have ever had.” The ministry estimates losses related to the disease at around 400 billion won (347.5 million dollars). About 160,000 animals were slaughtered during the previous worst outbreak in 2002. Last Saturday the government launched vaccinations for some 56,000 cattle.

Now the country will face an export ban since it takes longer for a country that launches vaccinations to regain disease-free status from the World Organization for Animal Health. President Lee Myung-Bak on Sunday urged officials to provide “maximum support” to farmers and health officials fighting the disease, including offering gloves, earmuffs and other cold weather gear.

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

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