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S. Korea reports additional case of foot-and-mouth disease
SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea reported an additional case of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) on Wednesday, a week after the government lowered the alert level for the highly contagious disease by one notch.

   Quarantine authorities said baby pigs at a farm in Yeongcheon, 344 kilometers southeast of Seoul, tested positive for FMD, the second confirmed case since Seoul downgraded its alert level last week.

   The quarantine authorities said they buried about 80 pigs that showed symptoms of the disease and ordered a restriction on the movement of livestock near the farm.

   South Korea lowered the alert level from "orange" to "yellow," the second-lowest level in the four-tiered alert system, on April 12, a sign that the highly contagious disease has been largely contained. Seoul downgraded the level to "orange" from "red," the highest alert level, on March 24.

   South Korea has been making all-out efforts to stem the nationwide spread of the disease since the first case was confirmed last November. The country culled more than 3.47 million cows, pigs and other animals, incurring around 3 trillion won (US$2.78 billion) in losses, and conducted nationwide vaccinations to curb the spread of the disease.

   The fresh cases of FMD are raising some concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccinations and the possibility that the FMD virus might have mutated.

   Farm Minister Yoo Jeong-bok said the government may consider raising the alert level if necessary.

   "Because foot-and-mouth disease does not seem to have spread yet as it earlier did, the government is closely watching the situation," he added.

   FMD is classified as a "List A" disease by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Countries that report the disease are barred from exporting meat from cloven-hoofed animals.