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South Korea confirms second case of deadly African swine fever, pledges vigilance

A vehicle disinfects a pig farm as a quarantine official wearing protective gear looks on in Paju, South Korea, September 17, 2019. Yonhap via REUTERS

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has confirmed a second case of African swine fever at a pig farm near the border with North Korea, a day after reporting its first-ever outbreak of the virus, deadly to pigs but not harmful to humans.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday that the second case was detected at a farm in Yeoncheon, northwest of the capital Seoul, where 4,700 pigs had been raised. North Korea reported its first case in late May.

The first outbreak of African swine fever in East Asia was reported in China in early August 2018, and the virus has since spread across Asia. The disease is nearly 100% fatal and highly contagious among pigs, with no known cure or vaccine.

The ministry said all of the pigs at the Yeoncheon farm would be slaughtered, pledging vigilance in efforts to contain the outbreak and ensure stable pork supplies.

After the first case was discovered, South Korea raised its animal disease alert level to the highest available and ramped up disinfection measures, including a temporary nationwide movement ban of hogs and related livestock.

With stockpiles and the national pig herd currently bigger than usual, the ministry said it expected the culling to have a limited impact on national pork supplies.

As of August, there were 12.3 million pigs in South Korea, up from 11.3 million in the second quarter, according to data from the agriculture ministry and Statistics Korea.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the ministry had suggested cooperative quarantine efforts with the North but nothing had happened so far.

North Korea has been affected by African swine fever as of Sept. 12, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website.

Reporting by Jane Chung; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Darren Schuettler

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