Additional FMD Case Found In South Korea's Largest Port City

South Korea confirmed an additional case of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in its largest port city on Monday as quarantine authorities start the second stage of its nationwide vaccination process, Yonhap news agency quoted the government as saying Monday.

The case at the pig and goat farm in Busan, which raised 568 animals, brings the total number of officially confirmed FMD outbreaks to 146, after livestock started showing symptoms in late November, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said. It is also the first confirmed case in the city located 450 kilometres southeast of Seoul.

The latest outbreak comes after all 13 million heads of cattle and pigs in the country were inoculated as of January, but have not been given a second vaccine shot that can enhance resistance to the virus.

"Since the pigs at the farm have only recently received shots, while the goats are not included in the ongoing vaccination programme, all the livestock have been ordered culled," the farm ministry said.

Authorities plan to complete giving second vaccine shots of local livestock by the middle of March that should help stem further outbreaks.

Since the first FMD outbreak was confirmed on Nov 29, Seoul destroyed more than 3.16 million heads of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and deer. Losses are estimated at more than 2 trillion won (US$1.8 billion).

A senior quarantine official, meanwhile, said that inspections will be carried out on more than 4,000 animal burial sites across the country for possible environmental contamination. The animals were usually buried at their farms after they were culled to prevent further spread of FMD.

"Detailed on-site inspections will start this week with all sites to be checked by early March," said Deputy Farm Minister Lee Sang-kil.

Although the burial sites were created according to set rules, emergency remedial actions can be ordered, while more permanent measures will be taken for any shortcomings found, he said.

The official added that experts are trying to determine why a national animal science centre in Cheonan, 92 kilometres south of the capital city, tested positive for FMD over the weekend.

He said that preliminary tests showed little possibility of the virus spreading by air, with attention being focused on support workers who may have brought the virus in from neighbouring animal farms.

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