Foot-and-mouth disease, which has forced South Korea to order the culling of nearly 2 million head of livestock, appears to have broken out in North Korea too, South Korean media reported.
Citing recent visitors to the impoverished communist country, South Korean government officials said Tuesday that North Korea is believed to be stepping up its quarantine efforts after outbreaks of the deadly animal disease were reported, according to Yonhap.
"Military personnel are said to have been mobilized in the fight," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. It remains unclear where the FMD, if confirmed, may have originated, but since November, South Korea has been struggling to contain the disease on its soil. North Korea banned the inflow of pork and beef from South Korea late last month for fear the disease may spread there.
Although FMD has only been detected in areas near North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang, the communist military is known to raise livestock in large numbers to feed its soldiers, a military source, who asked not to be named, told the English language news service JoongAng Ilbo.
The source said that North Koreans have been consuming infected pigs and cattle instead of culling them. “According to South Korean and U.S. intelligence, roads have been blocked by the military near Pyongyang to decrease movement of people,” the source said. The source said quarantine measures are proving difficult for North Korea, which lacks preventive medicine such as vaccines and quicklime in which to bury contagious animals.
North Korea suffered FMD outbreaks in 2007, prompting South Korea to dispatch a team of animal health experts amid a mood of reconciliation, Yonhap reported. At the time, officials from other countries and the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) visited the country on a consultative mission and said there was a “limited danger” for severe outbreaks in the country, JoongAng Ilbo reported. Roughly 4,000 animals were culled during that outbreak.
South Korea FMD update
Meanwhile, South Korea confirmed two additional FMD cases Tuesday as the government considers revamping its national quarantine system, Yonhap reported.
The disease hit another pig farm, bringing the total number of confirmed FMD outbreaks to 122, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF) said. All 3,110 animals at the two farms have been ordered destroyed, along with livestock within a 500-meter radius of the sites, MIFAFF said.
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