South Korea culls 195 cows and halts livestock transportation to stop spread of foot-and-mouth disease

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea is working to stop the spread of a case of foot-and-mouth disease found at a dairy farm outside of Seoul. ©iStock/Toa55
South Korea is working to stop the spread of a case of foot-and-mouth disease found at a dairy farm outside of Seoul. ©iStock/Toa55

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The government of South Korea has confirmed a case of foot-and-mouth disease at a dairy farm in Boeun county, approximately 106 miles southeast of Seoul.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hooved animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. While the disease has not been found to affect the food safety of dairy products, it can cause a drop in milk production and lameness in dairy cows.  

The country reported another suspected discovery of foot-and-mouth disease at cattle farm in the southeastern city of Jeongeup, a statement said.  

According to a statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, all 195 cows on the infected dairy farm have been culled and a 30-hour national standstill order has been placed for farms with “cloven-hooved livestock.”

According to a report by Preventative Veterinary Medicine, a halt on livestock transportation is the most effective way to prevent the disease from spreading.

“Livestock movements and trade play a key role in the spread of FMD (foot-and-mouth disease). Hence, despite the significant economic losses involved, movement and trade restrictions at domestic and international levels are fundamental to control,”​ the report stated.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of South Korea said that the disease is unlikely to spread as foot-and-mouth disease is one of the three illnesses that the country inoculates against.  

The last time the disease was confirmed to have infected livestock in the country was at a hog farm in March 2016.

South Korea dairy industry still on rebound from last outbreak

Foot-and-mouth disease affects less developed countries more often than it does developed nations like the US where the last recorded outbreak was in 1929, according to the USDA.

A report by the USDA found that raw milk production in South Korea has been on the rebound since 2011, when it first showed signs of recovering from an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2010.

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in 2010 caused the destruction of 3.4m livestock and $2.78bn in economic losses to South Korea.

Despite the negative impact the outbreak had on South Korea’s dairy industry, and the recent 2% decline in raw milk production recorded in 2015, overall raw milk consumption has increased from 33.5 metric tons in 2012 to 32.6 metric tons in 2015. 

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