South Korea confirms foot-and-mouth disease at dairy farm

South Korea confirmed a case of foot-and-mouth disease at a dairy farm, the country's first outbreak in less than a year, its agriculture ministry said on Monday (Feb 6).

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement that the disease had been detected at a dairy farm in Boeun county, about 170km south-east of Seoul. All 195 cows raised in the farm had been culled to contain the disease.

HFMD outbreak in Singapore

  • Singapore could be heading for one of its worst hand, foot and mouth disease outbreaks, with infections hitting near-record numbers over the past few months.
  • Associate Professor Chong Chia Yin, senior infectious disease consultant at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, said "Most of these children were admitted for fever and poor feeding, mild dehydration or febrile fits due to their high fever. None suffered serious complications."
  • Symptoms of HFMD include fever, ulcers in the mouth and tongue, blisters on hand, feet and bum, poor appetite and lethargy.
  • A child can get dehydrated from not drinking enough because it hurts to do so.
  • The current epidemic has been fuelled in part by parents who send their sick kids to childcare centres, and refuse to take them home when asked to.
  • A mother documented her health scare after catching HFMD from her son
  • I saw a red spot on my palm. I ignored it. My attention was on my two-year-old, Conran, who was still recovering from HFMD and was cranky. A few days ago, he had a few red spots on his feet and palms, as well as mouth ulcers. He lost his appetite for two to three days.
  • Day 3: I woke up and discovered that my hands were covered with bulbous, freaky-looking sores. I couldn't open and clench my fist without wincing in pain. There were red spots on my feet, too. Every spot was itchy and I couldn't stop scratching.
  • My hands were so swollen; my skin was stretched taut. I had fluids pumped into me regularly to prevent dehydration, and I needed to relieve myself every hour.
  • Some blisters on my hands had ruptured, so the skin was peeling and very cracked. As my skin had thickened during the outbreak, when it peeled, it was stiff and sharp at the edges.
  • The skin on my hands peeled even more, with cracked skin hanging off my fingertips. Some large blisters on my right hand remained intact.
  • I said goodbye to the nurses at ward 1132 and I was given a three-week MC by the doctor. I had to be quarantined at home as the blisters on my hands were still not fully healed and contagious.
  • The skin on the soles of my feet started peeling. Then, HFMD unleashed its ugliest after-effects: I was losing my nails and hair!
  • Over time, my toenails and fingernails dislodged. I freaked out. The discomfort was more pronounced on the fingers, probably because they are more visible to the eye.
  • Inadvertently, things such as hair and tissue paper got trapped in between and caused sudden pain. I wrapped surgical tape around all my fingernails and it made my life so much better.

The outbreak comes as Asia's fourth largest economy has been grappling with a nationwide spread of virulent bird flu virus since November last year, leading to cull nearly 33 million farm birds and raising the country's bird flu alert level to the highest for the first time.

This is not the first confirmation of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in South Korea. A case was discovered at a hog farm in South Chungcheong province in March last year, according to the statement.

The agriculture ministry said it has stepped up quarantine measures including a movement ban for farms within a 3 km-radius of where the disease had been found.

The ministry also said the disease was unlikely to be widespread as it was one of the three types that the country inoculates against.

South Korea confirms highly pathogenic bird flu outbreaks

  • South Korea's agriculture ministry said it will issue a temporary nationwide ban on the transportation of poultry to contain the spread of bird flu, with 43 outbreaks recorded in Asia's fourth-largest economy.
  • Since the first outbreak of a severe strain of bird flu known as H5N6 was reported on Nov.18., South Korea has ramped up quarantine measures to stop a wider spread of the virus, including issuing a 48-hour nationwide standstill order three weeks ago.
  • To prevent the spread of bird flu, the ministry said at least 8.8 million farm birds were culled and plans to slaughter 1.5 million more. That would be over 10 per cent of the country's poultry population of nearly 85 million.
  • Although cases of human infections from the H5N6 virus have previously been reported elsewhere including China, no cases of human infection have been found in South Korea.
  • South Korean health officials disinfect a stream which migratory birds stay in winter temporarily, to prevent spread of bird flu
  • A South Korean health official disinfects a vehicle to prevent spread of bird flu in Pohang, South Korea