Last Friday South Korea said it had killed more than 1.3 million pigs and cattle in a frantic effort to control the worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease the country has ever witnessed.
The massive culling of the animals began six weeks ago when more than 100 cases of foot-and-mouth disease were confirmed in pigs and cattle. According to Reuters this has led to, “Hundreds of thousands of authorities working day and night to slaughter the animals.”
The South Korean government is using a horrific method to end the lives of these animals – especially the pigs.
Animal activists worldwide have protested the atrocity, but Korean bureaucrats continue to ignore their pleas. The government is justifying use the cruel method because of a shortage of anesthetics in the country.
Reports say that as many as 34,000 pigs have been killed in a single day.
Groups such as PETA say that an inexpensive vaccine is available, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the vaccine must be matched to the specific type and subtype of the virus before it can help sick animals. The USDA did not say whether such a vaccine was being developed for the pigs and cattle in Korea.
In the meantime South Korea is using a basic vaccine on unaffected animals in parts of the country where the epidemic hasn’t hit.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious virus that can affect cloven hoofed animals like cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, bison and deer. Any country with cases of the disease is prohibited from exporting the meat or by-products from that animal.
Typical measures to control the disease include quarantine and the destruction of infected livestock. Recently “marker” vaccines have been used as well. The virus it not usually transmissible to humans.
Trauma To The Workers
The massive killings are taking a toll on the farmers, soldiers, police, health officials and other workers who have been forced to end the lives of the animals.
The numbers of animals these workers have killed is staggering. Reports from the province of South Chungcheong said that more than 90,000 pigs and cattle have been slaughtered in the area. The province will offer “stress treatment” to the workers.
Workers involved in the culling are suffering from insomnia, fearfulness, hallucinations and loss of appetite.
And there doesn’t seem to be an end to the killing in the near future. Four new cases of foot-and-mouth disease were confirmed on January 10.
Since November 29, South Korea has lost about seven percent of its cattle and pigs. And for the past two weeks the country has been monitoring chickens because of an outbreak of the avian flu virus.
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