South Korea's Foot-And-Mouth
Outbreaks Worsens

By CNN staff and wires

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 ministry said.
"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 the disease."
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 two countries.
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.


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