S. Korea still vigilant against swine fever despite monthlong hiatus


By Kang Yoon-seung, Yonhap News Agency (S.Korea) 

November 08, 2019


 SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea still remains vigilant over a potential outbreak of African swine fever despite a monthlong hiatus, as wild boars have emerged as yet another concern for the additional spread of the deadly animal disease, quarantine officials said Friday.


Since the country's first-ever outbreak of the animal disease on Sept. 17, the ASF has been haunting pig farms across the country as there are currently no vaccines nor cures for the highly infectious disease.


Since its outbreak, the disease has hit quickly across the northern areas of South Korea, infecting farms in four towns bordering North Korea, namely Paju, Yeoncheon, Gimpo and Gangwha.


So far, the country has confirmed 14 cases of ASF at local pig farms in total, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


Quarantine authorities have been engaging in an all-out war against the animal disease, with key measures that include culling pigs within a 3-kilometer radius of infected farms.


So far, more than 300,000 pigs have been culled, with the agricultural ministry purchasing 65,000 pigs for later consumption as a precautionary step as well. Some 70,000 pigs will also be slaughtered additionally.


Amid such efforts, there have been no new cases from local farms since Oct. 9. The monthlong hiatus indicates South Korea has possibly avoided the worst possible scenario, as the incubation period is around 19 days.


Experts, however, claim it is too early to declare that the country has fully contained the virus, amid the rising number of wild boars being infected with the disease.


"We are still open to various possibilities, and we cannot be at ease," an agricultural ministry official said.


Since the first case was confirmed in early October, South Korea has confirmed 22 cases of ASF from wild boars.


South Korea has been mobilizing soldiers and civilian hunters to hunt down wild boars in designated areas in the border area.


In the meantime, South Korea is still working to find traces of ASF.


All reported cases in South Korea, both from domestic pigs and wild boars, have been in areas bordering the North. Pyongyang reported its first outbreak of the disease at a farm near its border in May.


South Korea, however, has been making no progress in...