S.Korea raises alert as foot-and-mouth spreads

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 09:07 GMT

SEOUL, Dec 15 (Reuters) - South Korea upgraded its alert against foot-and-mouth disease on Wednesday as the outbreak first reported in late November spread to a region just north of the capital Seoul.

The outbreak has prompted the authorities to shut down livestock markets throughout the country, leading to a rise in the price of beef and pork.

Agriculture Minister Yoo Jeong-bok urged farmers to be vigilant in reporting symptoms and to cooperate with the culling of animals confirmed to have been infected.

More than 120,000 cattle and pigs had been culled and nearly 20,000 were being put down, local news reports said.

Foot-and-mouth affects livestock including sheep, cows and pigs, but the disease and meat from infected animals are not harmful to humans.

The outbreak originated in the southeastern city of Andong in North Gyeongsang province, affecting pigs. Subsequent tests confirmed cases among cattle in nearby areas and pigs in regions just north of Seoul, the agriculture ministry said. (Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Chris Lewis and Sanjeev Miglani)

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