Foot-and-Mouth Disease Spreads Farther Inland
By Cho Jae-hyon
A sixth outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed at a dairy farm in Gimpo, about 50 kilometers west of Seoul, raising concerns that the contagious disease might spread further inland, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Tuesday.
One of the 120 cattle on the farm developed blisters on its udders and was confirmed to have been infected with the disease that affects all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs and deer.
"We received a report on a suspected case from a dairy farm in Wolgot, Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, Monday, and the diary cow tested positive for the disease Tuesday," a ministry official said.
This is the first outbreak outside of Ganghwa Island on the west coast, where five cases were confirmed on April 9 and 10. The dairy farm is located 5.3 kilometers east of the island.
The authorities have made all-out efforts to prevent the disease from spreading inland but the latest outbreak of the disease, caused by an "O-type" virus strain, the same type found on Ganghwa Island, means that the defensive measures taken by the government have been breached.
Quarantine officials sealed off the farm and are limiting the movement of people and vehicles in the region.
They have started culling livestock within a 500-meter radius of the farm. Animals up to 3 kilometers from the farm are expected to be put down and buried.
Some livestock farmers in the area are opposing the killing of their dairy cows as the compensation from the government is far lower than market prices.
"I'm not going to agree to cull my dairy cows," a farmer with 50 dairy cows in the Gimpo area told a local daily.
Analysts say that a dairy farmer raising 50 cows has to suffer more than 100 million won ($83,000) in losses if the cattle are put down due to insufficient compensation.
The government had raised the disease crisis alert level to "orange," the second-highest of four stages, and ordered the deaths of 29,669 animals this month.
The latest outbreaks came after Seoul declared that it was clear of the disease on March 23 following the first wave of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks this year on Jan. 30.