South Korea has confirmed a second case of African swine fever near its border with North Korea, raising concerns that the outbreak could spread and wreak havoc on the country's massive pig herds. An official from South Korea's agriculture ministry said Wednesday that workers were planning to cull some 5,000 pigs raised at a farm in the town of Yeoncheon after the highly contagious disease was confirmed in tests of a dead pig. Officials culled nearly 4,000 pigs and stepped up quarantine efforts Tuesday after confirming the country's first case of the disease, the AP reports. African swine fever has decimated pig herds in China and other Asian countries before reaching the Koreas. It is harmless to people but for pigs is highly contagious and fatal. There is no known cure.
The outbreak in South Korea comes despite months of heightened monitoring efforts at border area farms after the disease spread to North Korea. In May, the North told the World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, that 77 of the 99 pigs at a cooperative farm near its border with China died of the disease and the remaining 22 pigs were culled. In China, which raises around half of the world's pigs, outbreaks that began more than a year ago have devastated herds. Pork prices in the country surged 46.7% in August from a year earlier, and Chinese families are having to rethink menu options despite government efforts to rebuild herds.
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