South Korea is working to prevent the spread of the highly contagious African swine fever on its pig industry after North Korea alerted that there was an outbreak at a farm near its border with China.
The country’s agriculture ministry claimed Friday that North Korea first reported to the World Organization for Animal Health that 77 of the 99 pigs at a farm in Jagang province died of the disease and another 22 pigs were culled.
In this April 29, 2009, file photo, a South Korean farmer sprays disinfectant against a possible swine flu outbreak at a port farm in Paju, South Korea. South Korea is scrambling to prevent the spread of the highly contagious African swine fever on its pig herds after North Korea confirmed an outbreak at a farm near its border with China. (AP Photo/Yonhap, Lee Jung-hoon, File)
North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Friday published articles about the spread of the African swine fever across Asia, but appears to have omitted that it has also spread in the country.
The disease, which is harmless to humans but deadly for pigs, has ravaged farms in China over the past few months, where over a million pigs had to be culled. It has since spread to Vietnam, Cambodia and Mongolia.
South Korean authorities will enact quarantine measures and will perform blood tests in some 350 pig farms near the inter-Korean border. Traps and fences will put up to prevent the pigs from contacting wild boars that roam in and out of North Korea.
“While North Korea’s Jagang province, where the outbreak of the African swine fever was confirmed, is near the border between North Korea and China, we do believe this is a serious situation as there is a possibility that the disease can spread toward the South,” said Oh Soon-min, director of quarantine policies at South Korea’s agriculture ministry.
The outbreak comes amid the North’s decreased engagement with the South after the talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump collapsed back in February.
Eugene Lee, a spokeswoman from Seoul’s Unification Ministry, said the South told the North “several times” that it could help mitigate the outbreak, but did not confirm how North Korean officials responded.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.