- SEOUL, South Korea -- South
Korea is testing more livestock for foot-and-mouth disease after pigs in
four separate farms tested positive on Saturday.
- Authorities have slaughtered about 23,000 livestock at
the four affected farms, on top of 12,000 animals it culled within a 500-meter
radius of the first affected farms the previous week, the agriculture ministry
said in a statement Sunday.
- "We have had two more reports of suspected foot-and-mouth
disease since the four cases were tested positive on Saturday," the
- "One case turned out to be negative. But tests are
under way for the other case where 17 pigs are reported to have signs of
- Local television reports said South Korea may have to
destroy up to 300,000 livestock to keep the disease from spreading further.
- Pigs at farms about 100 km (60 miles) south of Seoul
tested positive for the disease on Saturday and other farms around the
area have subsequently reported similar cases.
- A ministry official said the authorities were considering
vaccinating animals in areas surrounding the site, a move that would add
to the period before the country could be given a clean bill of health
and resume exports, Reuters reports.
- The outbreak of the disease is a blow to South Korea's
livestock and feed industries, which resumed pork exports for the first
time since a cattle outbreak of the disease in 2000 halted pork shipments
worth $400 million a year, mainly to Japan.
- Several countries in the region have banned pork imports
from South Korea and some, such as Australia, are poised to increase their
exports to South Korea's usual markets, particularly Japan.
- World Cup fears
- The outbreak comes as South Korea seeks to allay Japanese
concerns about the possible spread of the livestock disease during the
May 31-June 30 World Cup soccer finals, which will be co-hosted by the
- Tens of thousands of fans are expected to travel between
the two countries during the World Cup, raising worries in Japan that the
disease will be transmitted through food or tracked in on shoes.
- Agriculture ministry official Kang Dae-jin dismissed
Japan's fears on Friday, saying that the area hit by the latest outbreak
is far from the World Cup venues and is closed to visitors.
- Two-thirds of South Korea's 106 livestock markets have
closed to prevent the spread of the disease, which spreads rapidly among
cloven-hoofed animals such as cows and pigs but is not dangerous to humans.