Friday, February 17, 2017

South Korea facing a Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak

South Korea is currently facing a couple of cases of foot-and mouth disease amongst some cattles and the agriculture ministry is increasing its concern for the viral disease. The ministry announce this past Monday that it would be importing close to 5 million doses of the vaccine within these next two weeks in order to hopefully prevent a possible outbreak. The deputy of the food industry, Kim Kyeong-kyu, announced at a briefing this past week that they are “raising the alert level as foot-and-mouth cases occurred at different parts of the country and a second type of the disease emerged.” As of this 2 weeks ago, at least 1,2000 cattle have been slaughtered, which is about 0.04% of the cattle population.

Foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a picornavirus and affects cloven-hoofed animals. It is highly infectious and can be transmitted through aerosols and close contact, which can be very problematic among susceptible animal herds (cattle, sheep, goats, deer) within farms. This disease usually results in high fevers, weight loss, swelling of testicles, and could potentially lead to myocarditis and death. Transmission to humans is rare so the main concern with this viral disease is because of its high spread among animals.

Therefore, South Korea is quickly responding to the outbreak with 5 million doses. The vaccines will be against the O and A type strains of the virus, which are the two strains that have been identified. The government believes such vaccination will prevent the further spread so let us hope it all works out!

-Jeanette Rios ('18)

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