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South Korea steps up mass pig slaughter to contain foot-and-mouth

May 13, 2002 Agence France Presse by Jun Kwanwoo
South Korea on Monday stepped up a mass animal slaughter as it battled to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease with more than 90,000 pigs destined to be culled.

The killing began as an outbreak of the disease showed signs of spreading to other pig farms close to the capital, Seoul.

Seoul authorities are keen to ensure the outbreak does not affect preparations for the World Cup finals which start on May 31. More than 40,000 pigs had been killed by early Monday, according to the agriculture ministry's quarantine taskforce.

"An estimated 96,000 heads of livestock, mostly pigs, face the new mass slaughter," Park Yong-Keun of the taskforce told AFP.

Hundreds of troops have been mobilized for the new mass slaughter, Park added.

The latest foot-and-mouth cases were confirmed during the weekend in a sealed-off quarantine zone set up after the first outbreak was reported in Anseong, 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Seoul, on May 2.

The highly contagious disease has since hit farms at Anseong and the nearby counties of Jinchon and Yongin.

Eight places had tested positive for foot-and-mouth since the initial outbreak, the ministry said.

It has now ordered the slaughter of all pigs at farms within three kilometers (almost two miles) of the affected farms, extending the range beyond the earlier 0.5 kilometer (0.3 mile) perimeter.

Movements of animals and humans are strictly restricted within a 10-kilometer (six-mile) radius around Anseong, and the government has shut down 77 of the country's 106 livestock markets.

Foot-and-mouth disease attacks hoofed animals such as pigs, cows and goats, but not humans. The Philippines, China and Japan have banned all imports of South Korean pork and beef since last week.

South Korea had been free of foot-and-mouth since March 2000 when the previous outbreak was contained.

The new outbreak has caused deep concern in South Korea which will jointly host the month-long World Cup finals with Japan till June 30.

South Korea's government and ruling party Monday set aside a special budget worth 25.2 billion won (19.7 million dollars) to compensate affected farmers.

In an added health woe ahead of the World Cup soccer tournament, co-host Japan has also reported a new case of mad cow disease.

Japan's health ministry on Saturday announced it had confirmed the country's fourth madcow case after testing a slaughtered cow on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Since October Japan has tested all cows slaughtered for beef for the fatal brain-wasting disorder, after the first case was reported in September and two more cases were found in November.

Experts say eating madcow beef can cause a similar disorder to humans known as variant Creuzfeld Jakob disease.

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