SEJONG, - Health authorities unveiled a large-scale vaccination program for cattle Wednesday to prevent the spread of lumpy skin disease, with local governments making all-out efforts to contain the disease.
Since South Korea reported its first-ever outbreak of the disease last Friday, confirmed cases have increased to 29, as officials warned that the disease may further spread. Nine suspected cases are currently under investigation.
The agriculture ministry said it has planned to vaccinate all of the nation's cattle by early next month.
To that end, the ministry said it has been in negotiations with companies to secure 4 million vaccine doses.
"Considering the three weeks needed to develop protective antibodies against the disease, if the nationwide vaccination program is completed without delay, the outbreaks will be stabilized within November," the ministry said.
With the disease showing signs of further spreading, health authorities and local governments have been sparing no efforts to curb additional infections by mobilizing disinfection facilities and banning the transportation of livestock.
South Chungcheong Province, which reported the country's first confirmed case, is currently operating 19 disinfection facilities and 12 control posts to prevent additional infections.
South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla provinces, which have not yet confirmed any infections, are also taking proactive measures, including the closure of livestock markets, to shield the regions from the virus, officials said.
Anseong, located 64 kilometers southeast of Seoul, is particularly vigilant as it is the largest cattle producer in the greater Seoul region, with over 1,600 farms raising 100,000 head of cattle. The city has not yet reported a confirmed case.
Before the vaccination is complete, the government plans to ban the movement of cattle out of infected regions. The transportation of manure from these areas will only be permitted following a negative virus test.
Health authorities are also investigating how the virus entered the country, including the possibility that infected mosquitoes were transported by air current or ships.
The disease, which does not affect humans, is a highly infectious disease that causes skin lesions, fever and loss of appetite, often leading to a fall in milk production and even death. It affects cattle and buffalo via mosquitoes and other blood-feeding insects.
Source: Yonhap News Agency