Fifth foot-and-mouth disease case confirmed in S. Korea

A fifth foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) case was confirmed at a cow farm in South Korea, the agriculture ministry in Sejong said Sunday, raising concerns over a nationwide spread of the animal epidemic, the Yonhap's source.

Some 70 cows in Boeun of North Chungcheong Province, some 180 kilometers southeast of Seoul, tested positive for the contagious virus, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Only a week has passed since the first outbreak was confirmed at a dairy farm in the same county Sunday. Previous infections took place in the central Gyeonggi Province and the southeastern region of North Jeolla Province.

On Thursday, the government raised the watch level to the highest vigilance in the country's disease control system and closed all livestock trading markets across the nation, with a movement ban on animals, until Feb. 28.

It is the first time in seven years that the country issued the highest alert against the FMD virus. In 2010, nearly 3.5 million FMD infected cows and pigs were culled over nearly six months.

Foot-and-mouth disease, affects cloven-hoofed animals, such as cows, sheep and pigs. South Korea reported its last outbreak of the disease on March 29 last year. The disease does not affect humans.

At the same time, the country has already been struggling with the rapidly spreading avian influenza for nearly three months, with more than 30 million chickens and ducks culled.

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