First official case of African swine fever in North Korea

Northern border area in South Korean peninsula is on emergency alert due to the official outbreak of African swine fever in North Korea.

African Swine Fever hits North Korea.

South Korean Agriculture Minister visiting pig farms in border area with North.

Official outbreak of African swine fever in North Korea

On Thursday, 30 May, North Korean authorities reported the outbreak of African swine fever(ASF) at a farm in Chagang province, near the border with China to the World Organization for Animal Health(OIE). Among the 99 pigs of the farm, 77 died from the virus and the rest were culled.

Over this ASF case in North Korea, South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry held an emergency meeting. The farming and health authorities are on high alert over the possible spread and increasing the control and quarantine measures to guard against any spread of the virus in Northern border area.

As part of efforts to prevent the virus from entering the South, the ministry designated ten areas close to the border with North Korea as special management zones and began quarantine measures. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon also ordered for all out efforts to prevent the virus from spreading, and vowed to visit several affected sites over the weekend.

The government has also decided to set up a facility to block wild pigs for all pig farms in the border area as North Korean wild pigs can carry the disease as they travel south across the river. Inter-Korean collaboration is therefore expected to prevent spread of virus. However, following the collapse of the second US-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February, a question arises if the working level agreement between the two Koreas on sharing information regarding the transmittable diseases to block the spread across the border can be implemented or not.

The virus is spreading rapidly throughout Asia after it broke out in Italy and two other European countries in 2018, in addition to 22 African states. It hit China last August, Mongolia in January, Vietnam in February, Cambodia in April and Hong Kong in May.

Currently there is no vaccine or cure for swine fever. That's why quarantine efforts are critical to stem the spread of the virus whose fatality rate is almost 100 percent. Although the disease causes no harm to humans, the epidemic could cause serious damage to pig farmers.