October 26, 2023
SEOUL – South Korea’s central and local governments, along with livestock farmers nationwide, are making concerted efforts to curb the spread of lumpy skin disease, a highly contagious viral infection impacting cattle.
South Korea’s agriculture ministry has confirmed a total of 29 cases of the disease as of 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday since the first case was reported last Friday. In an attempt to contain the outbreak, around 1,000 cattle from farms where lumpy skin disease-infected cattle were bred have been culled as of Wednesday morning.
South Korea plans to initiate a nationwide vaccination aimed at containing the spread of the disease, which is transmitted by blood-feeding insects such as mosquitoes among cattle, with the goal of completing the vaccination by early November.
The Agriculture Ministry said it would urgently secure four million doses of vaccines, including 1.27 million vaccines by Saturday and 2.73 million more by next Tuesday.
The quarantine authorities predicted that if vaccination is completed as planned, the situation will stabilize after mid-November, as antibodies will be formed after three weeks.
Local governments have joined the efforts to contain an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in cattle.
South Chungcheong Province, where the first cattle confirmed with the virus were found, is making every effort to support the Nonghyup Korean Cow Improvement Office. The office manages 2,500 cows, including 150 bulls that produce frozen semen for 97 percent of Korean native cattle farms nationwide. It has completed vaccination for all cattle.
Gyeonggi Province is strengthening patrols over the region to preemptively spot infected cattle and push for early vaccination. A total of eight farms across four regions within the province have seen confirmed cases since Friday.
Pyeongtaek, where the first confirmed case was found in Gyeonggi Province, is operating its quarantine countermeasures headquarters 24 hours a day, and has set up four control posts over the region. The municipal government is also putting all-out effort to control the blood-feeding insects near the cattle farms. Pyeongtaek City plans to vaccinate 26,000 cattle from 395 farms within its jurisdiction by Thursday.
Anseong in Gyeonggi Province raises 100,000 cattle in 1,635 farms, which makes the city the largest cattle-raising region in the metropolitan area. Although there have been no confirmed cases yet, authorities are strengthening patrols and monitoring systems over cattle breeders.
South Gyeongsang Province and South Jeolla Province, where no lumpy skin disease cases have been found, are taking preemptive measures to block the inflow of the disease.
The province closed 14 livestock markets immediately after the outbreak of the disease. From Wednesday, it banned the inflow of cattle from five cities and provinces where the disease had been confirmed.
Hapcheon-gun, which raises the most native Korean cattle in South Gyeongsang Province, is disinfecting all cattle farms in the region every day.
South Jeolla Province has temporarily closed 15 livestock markets since the first outbreak of lumpy skin disease. Disinfection facilities are operating 24 hours a day in 22 cities and counties in the province, and all vehicles entering and leaving cattle breeding farms must undergo disinfection.
Meanwhile, the average wholesale price of Korean beef has risen more than 10 percent in a week due to the outbreak of the disease.
According to the Korea Institute for Animal Products Quality Evaluation on Wednesday, the wholesale price of Korean beef on the previous day was 20,053 won ($14.85) per kilogram, up 13.1 percent from 17,723 won a week ago before the outbreak of the disease.
Every Tuesday in October, the wholesale price of Korean beef remained between 16,000 and 17,000 won, but it exceeded 20,000 won after the lumpy skin disease outbreak. It is the first time in the past month that the wholesale price of Korean beef has exceeded 20,000 won per kg.