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Mistaken Virus Introduction Theory Leaves Blame on Innocent Farmers

21 February 2011

SOUTH KOREA - It has emerged that the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus that first broke out in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province last November, is a form close to that found in Hong Kong and Russia.

This contradicts the government's announcement that it had deduced that the virus was brought into Korea by a livestock farmer who traveled to Viet Nam.

The fact that the government was informed of experiment results from a globally officially recognised specialist FMD research institute indicating this in the early days of the outbreak, but did not make the information public for more than two months, has given rise to controversy over government's concealment and distortion.

On 14 February, Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Choon-seog made public a report from the UK's Pirbright laboratory, the world's leading FMD research institute, on genetic tests on the virus affecting Andong. The report dated from 30 November 2010.

According to the report, government authorities gathered FMD samples for genetic testing from Waryong-myeon in Andong City on 28 November before asking Pirbright, an FMD laboratory approved by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Two days later, on November 30, the laboratory produced in its report a list of ten viruses in order of genetic similarity to the Andong virus. The laboratory's analysis said that the ten similar viruses had all occurred in Hong Kong and Russia in 2010, and that they ranged in genetic similarity from 99.06 per cent to 98.9 per cent to the Andong virus. FMD viruses that occurred in Viet Nam were not even on the list.

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Source: The Kyungshang Shinmun


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