South Korea confirms new cases of African swine fever

A macrophage (immune response) cell in early stages of infection with African swine fever virus, magnified about 1,000x. (Keith Weller photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Seoul | Reuters — South Korea has confirmed new cases of African swine fever at hog farms in cities near the capital Seoul after the country’s first outbreak of the deadly virus last week, the agriculture ministry said on Monday.

The new case occurred at a pig farm with about 1,800 pigs in the city of Gimpo, nearly 14 km south of the city of Paju where the country’s first case was confirmed on Sept. 17, the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs said in a statement.

Another case was confirmed at a pig farm with around 2,300 pigs in Paju on Tuesday, the ministry said.

A total of four cases have been confirmed since the first outbreak of African swine fever on Sept. 17.

Since the first outbreak, over 15,000 pigs had been culled, according to agriculture ministry data, 0.1 per cent of the country’s pig population of more than 12 million pigs.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has raised the country’s animal disease alert level to the highest following the outbreak and ramped up disinfection measures to try to keep the virus spreading further.

African swine fever is highly contagious among pigs and nearly 100 per cent fatal, but does not affect humans. It has spread across China and infected herds in Southeast Asia including Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines.

— Reporting for Reuters by Jane Chung; additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin.

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