U.N. warns of Asian foot-and-mouth threat

Jan. 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A U.N. agency says it is warning veterinary and border authorities in Asia of a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the Republic of Korea.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization is urging authorities to be on the alert for livestock showing signs of infection by the highly contagious animal disease, a U.N. release said Thursday.

Foot-and-mouth disease affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, causing high fever, and is named for its characteristic lesions in animals' mouths and feet.

The disease does not affect humans.

Since November 2010 the Republic of Korea has imposed quarantines, initiated a vaccination campaign targeting 9 million pigs and 3 million heads of cattle, and culled 2.2 million livestock, the FAO said.

The cost of the control effort in the Republic of Korea is estimated at about $1.6 billion, the FAO, which described the outbreak as "unprecedented," said.

"Authorities in Asia should make sure they are in a position to detect any instances of the disease and respond rapidly in an appropriate way," Juan Lobroth, FAO's chief veterinary officer, said.

"FAO is advocating proactive vaccination campaigns designed to stop the spread of the disease."

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