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Limited danger of new Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in North Korea - North Korea should remain on alert

4 April 2007 – The recent outbreak of the highly contagious Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was probably a single case and appears to be under control, FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said today after the return of a one-week mission to the country.

The outbreak started in January at a farm in Sangwon near the capital of Pyongyang and was brought into the country through a shipment of live animals. It was the first outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since 1960.

“Based on the mission's visit to the infected area and discussions with North Korean veterinary authorities we concluded that there is a limited risk that new outbreaks could occur. North Korea should, however, remain on alert,” said Joseph Domenech, FAO's Chief Veterinary Officer.

“The veterinary authorities, who had requested our assistance, were very transparent and cooperative,” Domenech said.

Since the outbreak, quarantine officials have culled around 400 infected cattle and 2600 pigs and have applied standard disease control measures.

In order to avoid future outbreaks of Foot-and-Mouth disease, FAO is drafting a project proposal to assist the country in importing high quality vaccines, developing a contingency plan, improving laboratory infrastructure and training. In particular, the identification and registration of animals, quarantine procedures, passive and active surveillance along transport routes and diagnostic capacity should be strengthened.

Foot-and-Mouth Disease is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cows, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals, causing blisters on the nose, mouth, hooves and teats. The disease results in severe production losses in livestock operations. The disease does not pose a threat to human health.

The mission was organized by the FAO/OIE Crisis Management Center.