SEJONG -- Four cases of African swine fever have been confirmed in South Korea in a week since Sept. 17. Its incubation period is one week or more.
On Tuesday, the fourth case of the deadly virus was detected at a hog farm in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, following the previous day’s third case at a farm in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province.
Since the first outbreak, Paju recorded two ASF cases, and Yeoncheon and Gimpo one each.
Quarantine authorities are on alert to the possibility that ASF will spread to Ganghwa (west of the three locations involving Paju), Gangwon Province’s Cheorwon (east) and southward.
Caption: Hogs at a farm in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province are culled on Tuesday after a case of African swine fever was confirmed a day earlier. (Yonhap)
Other areas considered risky are Hwaseong, Pyeongtaek, Anseong, Yangpyeong, Icheon, Yeoju and Namyangju, all of which are located in southern or eastern Gyeonggi Province.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs late Monday issued a “standstill,” a movement ban on hog raising industry employees in Gyeonggi, Incheon and Gangwon.
In addition, the number of hogs in the three locations to be culled is estimated to reach 20,000.
More than 6,000 farms nationwide have a total of 11.3 million hogs, according to the Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation.
South Chungcheong Province topped the list with 2.3 million pigs, followed by Gyeonggi Province with 1.9 million.
And Gyeonggi has the largest number of hog farms, 1,250, and South Chungcheong is next with 1,142. Together, the two provinces account for 35-40 percent of hog farms nationwide.
Other major hog farming regions include North Gyeongsang Province and North Jeolla Province.
In addition, North Chungcheon Province is the center of slaughterhouses for pork products.
ASF has a 100 percent mortality rate for infected pigs, but doctors and veterinarians say it cannot infect humans. Cooked pork presents little risk, even if the pigs are infected with the virus, according to ministry officials.
The Agriculture Ministry has said it would “intensively sterilize the farms in the six areas by mobilizing as many disinfection vehicles as possible.”
In North Korea in late May, a case of ASF was reported in Jagang Province, which borders China. But the South Korean government seemingly has no information as to whether there was an outbreak in the southern part of North Korea, close to Gimpo, Paju and Yeoncheon, over the past few months.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)