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South Korea Kills 1.7 Million Animals to Stop Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Binh Dan: Pig's Feet

South Korean officials are desperately trying to stop a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, killing over a million infected animals and vaccinating millions more.

Despite its innocuous name, foot-and-mouth isn't a social faux pas, it's a devastating virus that infects cloven-hoofed animals. Symptoms include a high fever followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet, which if they rupture can cause lameness. (Transmission to humans is rare, but they can spread the disease if they've had contact with contaminated farm equipment, clothing and feed.)

Since the outbreak that began in late November, nearly 1.7 million farm animals have been slaughtered, some of which were buried alive when euthanasia drugs ran out, reports Time magazine.

In mountainous, farm-heavy Gapyeong, the government's efforts are of little consolation to the affected farmers, some of whom have seen their livestock and their livelihoods destroyed overnight.

For consumers, it means a rise in meat prices.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, the mass cull has caused wholesale prices of beef and pork to rise in January: 9% and 22% over December's average prices, respectively.

For American and Australian farmers, who supply much of South Korea's pork and beef, respectively, it means an uptick in sales as they rush to fill the demand, which spikes near the Lunar New Year.


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