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Foot-and-mouth epidemic spreading in South Korea news
17 January 2011

South Korea's worst ever foot-and-mouth epidemic, which has claimed about 1.4 million animals, mainly pigs and cows across half the country so far, seems to be spreading further despite massive state efforts.

Livestock farms are estimated to have lost in excess of 1,400 billion won ($1.26 billion) and prices of meat and meat products have soared, adding to rising food prices.

The highly contagious disease, which was detected on 28 November on a farm at Andong, in the eastern province of North Gyeongsang, now covers 114 centres, accounting for nearly eight per cent of the country's total livestock.

The South Korean government has imposed travel restrictions and a strict quarantine, closed cattle markets and some zoos in a massive operation aimed at checking the spread of the disease. More than 2 million heads of cattle have been vaccinated since December.

Under the new regulations, farmers travelling abroad will have to inform the authorities and there will be a certification system to guarantee stock-breeders are well trained and follow hygienic methods.

The government has also mobilised around 68,000 soldiers to assist authorities in the destruction of livestock.

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Foot-and-mouth epidemic spreading in South Korea