February 24, 2014 – South Korea on Monday offered to send vaccine and medical equipment to North Korea to help contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, in a further sign of warming cross-border ties.
The offer came days after North Korea confirmed cases of the highly contagious livestock disease at a pig farm in a suburb of Pyongyang.
It had spread to other areas in the capital and an adjacent county, leading to the culling of thousands of pigs, the North’s official KCNA news agency reported.
The report expressed concern over the impact of the outbreak, citing a lack of preventive medicine, diagnostic kits and difficulties in securing disinfectant.
“In our proposal today, we called for talks on an emergency shipment of vaccines and medical equipment to North Korea,” a South Korean unification ministry official said.
There had been no response from Pyongyang so far, he said.
There is a precedent for such cooperation, with South Korea having provided experts, medicine and equipment following a 2007 foot-and-mouth outbreak in the North.
The disease does not respect borders. In 2011, the entire Korean peninsula was hit by an outbreak that led to the culling of more than three million livestock in the South alone.