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First case of African swine fever reported in North Korea

SEOUL (Reuters) – The first case of African swine fever has been reported in North Korea, South Korea’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday, showing how the virus has spread widely since the first outbreak in East Asia was found in China in August last year.

The outbreak was confirmed at a farm in Jagang province in North Korea near the country’s border with China on May 25, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement. More than 20 hogs were culled after more than 70 pigs died from the virus, the ministry said.

The case has also been reported to the Paris-based World Organisation for Health, the ministry statement said. Some measures including disinfection have been taken by North Korea, the statement also said.

Highly contagious African swine fever occurs among pigs and wild boars and is transmitted by ticks and direct contact between animals. Currently there is no vaccine against it. It does not affect humans.

No case of the virus has been detected in South Korea.

Outbreaks of bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease have been reported in North Korea in the past but it is not clear how large North Korea’s poultry and livestock population is.

Following the outbreak in North Korea, the South Korean government will hold a meeting on Friday to discuss ways to prevent the virus from spreading to South Korea.

Reporting By Jane Chung. Editing by Jane Merriman

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