Sun | Oct 20, 2019

South Korea culls pigs after confirming African swine fever

Published:Wednesday | September 18, 2019 | 12:06 AM
Disinfectant solution is sprayed from a vehicle as a precaution against African swine fever near a pig farm in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. South Korea is culling thousands of pigs after confirming African swine fever at a farm near its border with North Korea, which had an outbreak in May. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Disinfectant solution is sprayed from a vehicle as a precaution against African swine fever near a pig farm in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. South Korea is culling thousands of pigs after confirming African swine fever at a farm near its border with North Korea, which had an outbreak in May. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL (AP):

South Korea is culling thousands of pigs after confirming African swine fever at a farm near its border with North Korea, which had an outbreak in May.

Kim Hyun-soo, South Korea’s agricultural minister, said the country’s first case of the highly contagious disease was confirmed on Tuesday in tests on five pigs that died Monday evening at the farm in the city of Paju.

His ministry later said it was looking into a suspected second case from a farm in the nearby town of Yeoncheon, where the owner reported the death of a pig, and that test results were expected by Wednesday morning.

Officials were planning to complete by Tuesday the culling of some 4,000 pigs raised at the Paju farm and two other farms run by the same family. The government also strengthened efforts to disinfect farms and transport vehicles and ordered a 48-hour standstill on all pig farms, slaughterhouses and feed factories across the country to prevent the spread of the disease, which threatens a massive industry that involves 6,000 farms raising more than 11 million pigs.

African swine fever has decimated pig herds in China and other Asian countries before reaching the Koreas. It is harmless to people but for pigs is highly contagious and fatal. There is no known cure.

“We will invest maximum effort to prevent the disease from spreading ... we believe the first week (following the outbreak) would be most dangerous,” considering incubation periods, Kim said during a news conference in Sejong City.

“We will quickly complete monitoring inspections at the 6,300 farms (nationwide) ... checking each pig to see whether it has fever or not and testing on even the slightest of symptoms,” he said.