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(LEAD) FMD spreads fast in N. Korea, infects cows near border: report

2014/03/28 11:11

SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has determined that a recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in North Korea has spread fast, infecting four cows near the border with South Korea, a U.S. radio report said Friday.

North Korea reported the latest outbreak of FMD to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health in early January. The country's media later reported that 360 pigs had died from the disease and some 2,900 had been culled as a preventive measure to stop it from spreading.

FMD is an infectious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, cattle, deer and sheep.

Following a request from the North, the U.N. body sent a team of experts to assess the situation in the country earlier this month.

The FAO told a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Wednesday that the experts found four cows that had been infected with FMD on a farm in the eastern Kangwon Province, near the border with South Korea, according to the Voice of America.

The U.N. body said it plans to provide various forms of assistance to the North, including FMD checks, supply of preventive measures and training for relevant authorities.

Despite the spread of the infectious disease, the North remained mum on South Korea's month-old offer of help, the unification ministry dealing with inter-Korean affairs said.

Amid reports of FMD outbreaks in the North, Seoul offered to provide disinfectants and preventive medicine while also suggesting inter-Korean talks to discuss humanitarian aid to the communist country last February.

"The North has not shown any reaction to our government's (suggestion) of a working-level contact regarding FMD. It seems that the FMD is spreading inside North Korea," unification ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do said in a briefing.

But South Korea is not considering additional offers for talks for now, Kim said.