The agriculture ministry of South Korea, Kim Hyeon-soo announced on September 17 that the nation has been put on the highest alert of animal disease after discovering its first outbreak of deadly African swine fever at a pig farm in Paju, a town located near the border of North Korea. The case was reported less than four months after North Korea reported its first outbreak in late May.
The minister said on Tuesday that in addition to raising the alert level, nearly 4,000 pigs would be selectively slaughtered to prevent the spread of the virus. He said they will make all possible efforts to stop the spread of the disease through swift disinfection measures. A nationwide movement was also ordered by the Ministry to ban the hogs and similar livestock for 48 hours while monitoring the source of the virus. African swine fever is very contagious and nearly 100 percent fatal to swine herds. The disease is found among the pigs and wild boars transmitted by ticks and direct contact between animals. There is no vaccination available for the disease but it does not affect humans.
#SouthKorea has raised its animal disease alert to the highest level after discovering its first outbreak of deadly African swine fever at a pig farm in Paju, a town near its border with North Korea #SwineFlu— Business Line (@businessline) September 17, 2019
The first outbreak of African swine fever in East Asia was reported in China in early August 2018. Since then, the deadly virus has spread to all Chinese provinces and regions, as well as to other Asian nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines. South Korea is Asia's fourth-largest economy and does not import any pork products or live pigs from China due to China's history of foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks. It basically imports from the nations of the US and Germany with pork imports accounting for over a third of the country's total pork supplies. The African swine fever has hit the country for the first time with an incidence of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed in March 2018 at a hog farm, the country's first discovery since February 2017.
According to the Agriculture Ministry data, the pork consumption per person in 2018 was 27.0 kg.
South Korea has a hog population of 11.3 million, according to Statistics Korea, and pork, cheaper than beef, is South Korea's most popular meat, particularly pork belly for barbecue. The outbreak of the disease has not yet been reflected in South Korea's retail pork prices. The average retail price of local pork belly was 2,013 won ($1.70) per 100 gram (0.22 lb) as of Sept.16, down from 2,206 won per 100 gram a year earlier, according to data from state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.
According to customs data, South Korea imported 374,961 tonnes of pork in the first eight months of this year down 3.6 per cent from 388,772 tonnes over the same period a year earlier. In 2018, South Korea's pork imports were more than 570,000 tonnes. The shares of some of the animal medicine suppliers Eagle Veterinary Technology and Cheil Bio plummeted around 30 percent. Shares of chicken-related firms including Maniker and Harim also dropped nearly 30 per cent.