Credit Japan’s MAFF
With the Lunar New Year (Seollal in Korea) looming, authorities in South Korea are scrambling to try to contain recent outbreaks of avian (H5N8) influenza in poultry and FMD (Foot & Mouth Disease) in pigs.
In recent days H5N8 was even found in the droppings of birds in the nation’s capital, Seoul. The first detection of HPAI in that city in a decade (see Korea Times Bird flu virus spreads to Seoul).
First this report from Korea JoongAng Daily, after which I’ll have a bit more.
Officials struggle to control viruses ahead of the Lunar New YearFeb 11,2015
Quarantine authorities are scrambling to prevent the further spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza (AI) a week before the Lunar New Year, one of the country’s biggest holidays that prompts mass travel.
Those efforts, however, have appeared to have little effect, with both viruses continuing to advance.
Hongseong County, South Chungcheong, the country’s largest pig-breeding region, has confirmed two outbreaks of FMD since Friday, the first in four years. After animals at one farm tested positive on Friday, FMD was confirmed at another site on Monday just 20 meters (65 feet) away.
There are currently 305 pig farms breeding a total of 494,000 pigs in Hongseong County. The last time the county saw an outbreak of the disease was in February 2011, when more than 50,000 pigs from 127 farms were culled, with damage adding up to 10.76 billion won ($9.82 million).
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that primarily afflicts cloven-hoofed animals (including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, etc.). Caused by a picornavirus, it has no relation to HFMD, which is a childhood disease in humans caused by a number of non-polio enteroviruses.
During the 2010-2011 FMD outbreak in South Korea, roughly 3.5 million animals were destroyed (151,425 cattle, 3,318,299 pigs, 8,071 goats, and 2,728 deer) and buried at more than four thousand locations around the country (EID Journal Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease during 2010–2011 Epidemic, South Korea).
Additionally, over the past year South Korea has culled roughly 15 million birds in their attempts to contain the recently (January 2014) emerged H5N8 virus.
While both diseases were thought under control, last summer we saw South Korea: Fresh Reports Of FMD & H5N8, scattered reports of both livestock diseases throughout the fall , and just last month authorities announced a 36 Hour Farm Lockdown To Halt AI & FMD.
FMD is endemic in many parts of the world (Africa, Asia, South America, some parts of Europe), but has been eradicated in many others. The last outbreak of FMD in the United States was in 1929 – but vigilance is maintained to prevent its return.