S. Korea lifts livestock movement restrictions

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : June 18, 2010, 11:38 | Updated : June 18, 2010, 11:38
South Korea has lifted all restrictions on the movement of livestock in the country after no new cases of foot-and-mouth disease were reported in more than a month, the government said Friday.

An outbreak of the highly contagious animal disease was confirmed on April 8 in a county 58 kilometers west of Seoul, prompting the government to limit the movement of livestock in an effort to prevent its spread.

"Restrictions imposed on the movement of animals have been lifted," said Kim Jeong-wook, an official for the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. "The country has lowered its animal disease alert status to 'blue, the lowest level in the four-tiered system."

There have been no confirmed cases of the disease since May 6 and detailed examinations of animals around the 11 confirmed outbreak sites all tested negative for the disease, he said.

Foot-and-mouth disease can affect all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo, and is classified as a "List A" disease by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Countries that report the disease are barred from exporting meat from cloven-hoofed animals.

According to the ministry, 49,874 animals have been destroyed since April, with total losses estimated at 194.9 billion won (US$161.4 million).

The April outbreak is the second in 2010 after six cases of foot-and-mouth disease were confirmed in January in a region north of Seoul. This first outbreak forced the culling of 5,956 animals at a cost of 40.8 billion won.

 The official said that if there are no new cases of the disease in the coming weeks and if outbreaks in neighboring countries such as China and Japan subside, Seoul will formally declare itself "clear" of the disease and ask the OIE for confirmation around August so that the country can regain its foot-and-mouth free status.

After regaining a disease-free status, South Korea will be able to restart negotiations with other countries over exports of pork and dairy products, he added.//Yonhap
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