N.Korea officially confirms foot and mouth outbreak

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Friday confirmed an outbreak of food-and-mouth disease (FMD), which led to the culling of thousands of pigs, for the first time this year.

The animal disease broke out at a pig farm in a suburb of Pyongyang on January 8 and spread to 17 areas of Pyongyang and Junghwa County of North Hwanghae Province near Pyongyang, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a Korean-language report.

The outbreak is the first since April 2011.

Of about 3,200 pigs infected by FMD Type O viruses, some 360 died from the disease with about 2,900 culled, causing huge financial losses, the KCNA said.

The quarantine authorities have issued emergency quarantine measures across the country and blocked traffic in the affected areas as well as conducted disinfection procedures there, it said.

However, the KCNA expressed concerns over the wide spread of the animal disease, citing a lack of preventive medicine and diagnostic kits and difficulty in securing disinfectant.

Earlier Thursday, the agriculture ministry of South Korea said it had been notified of the outbreak in the North by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

According to the OIE, the North reported the outbreak more than a month after it broke out, without explaining why.

FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, such as pigs, cattle, deer and sheep.

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