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North Korea has broken its silence on an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF), with claims it has taken emergency measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

The virus does not affect humans but it is fatal and highly contagious to pigs and wild boars.

South Korea’s agriculture ministry claimed the North reported an outbreak to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) late last month, but this is the first time it has made any official comment.

African swine fever was found at a farm in China in February
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African swine fever was found at a farm in China in February

It is claimed Pyongyang said 77 out of 99 pigs had died from the disease at a farm near the China border.

Since the first outbreak of ASF in East Asia was reported in China in early August last year, the virus has spread across the country and reached Vietnam.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s state newspaper said on Wednesday that nationwide steps were being carried out to contain it, quoting leader Kim Jong Un as saying “prevention is the key to production in livestock industry”.

“Increasing livestock production goes hand-in-hand with raising farm animals safe from various diseases,” he said.

Kim Jong Un is reported to have said: 'prevention is the key to production in livestock industry'
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Kim Jong Un reportedly said prevention was ‘key to production in livestock industry’

“Once highly contagious diseases like African swine fever are spread, herds of farm animals could die.”

North Korea raises mainly chickens, ducks and rabbits – and according to data from Statistic Korea – in 2017, the North’s pig population was 2.6m.

Preventative measures are said to include disinfecting farms and restricting sales of pork and processed meat.

Following the outbreak in the North, South Korea has taken action of its own, near the shared border to keep the viral disease away.

So far, no further cases have been reported in North Korea.

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Unhatched birds can warn other eggs in nest of danger by vibrating | Science & Tech News

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Unhatched baby seabirds can warn each other of impending danger by vibrating within their shells, scientists have discovered.

A study of yellow-legged gull embryos, found they reacted to warning calls from a parent and even passed on the message to siblings who had not heard the call.

The researchers collected gull eggs and divided them into groups of three.

A week before hatching, two of the three eggs in each nest were temporarily removed and exposed to a recording of a predator alarm call.

The noise was delivered four times a day at random intervals for three minutes at a time until hatching.

The third egg from each group remained in the nest in silence.

All three eggs were then reunited and left to hatch.

It was found the embryos responded to the external alarm calls by vibrating more.

This information appeared to be passed on to the third egg which had not been directly exposed to the sounds and it then mimicked the vibrations.

Experts from the Animal Ecology Group at the University of Vigo in Spain discovered all the chicks underwent genetic changes that delayed hatch time.

There was also evidence of increased production of stress hormones which is known to make birds more aware of their surroundings after hatching.

The findings were published in the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.

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Bali arrests: Shackled Australians facing jail over ‘cocaine use’ | World News

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Two Australian men have been paraded in front of the media a week after being arrested in Bali on suspicion of cocaine use and possession.

Indonesian police are preparing to charge the pair and are currently searching for a third suspect after a series of drug raids in the village of Canggu, a popular nightclub area on the island of Bali.

The two men, who have been named as William Cabantong, 35, and David Van Iersel, 38, were led out in front of the media in hand and foot shackles, alongside local drug suspects.

Police acted on a tip-off, and said they found 1.12g of cocaine in the pockets of one of the men, as well as drug equipment including a set of broken scales.

The men bought 2g of cocaine for three million rupiahs (£172), according to police.

The pair have undergone days of interrogation and tests while in prison. Police say a blood test revealed that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel were cocaine users.

Denpasar police chief Ruddi Setiawan told reporters: “We advise tourists, locals, and foreigners to come here for a holiday, don’t come to have a drugs party or to use drugs.

“We will take firm action if any foreigners resist. We will not be lenient.”

The men are expected to be charged under Indonesian law 112, legislation which covers drug possession. The punishment carries a possible jail term of between four and 12 years, as well as a fine of 800 million rupiah (£45,000).

The men hid their faces as they stood with others arrested on drug charges
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The men hid their faces as they stood with others arrested on drug charges

It is understood that both Mr Cabantong and Mr Van Iersel worked as nightclub promoters whilst they lived in Australia before they travelled to Bali.

Indonesia is known for its strong penalties against those who commit drug offences. In 2017, Indonesian President Joko Widodo told police officers to shoot drug traffickers.

He said: “Be firm, especially to foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist arrest. Shoot them because we indeed are in a narcotics emergency position now.”

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Drug-resistant malaria strains spread through south east Asia | World News

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Strains of drug-resistant malaria are becoming more dominant in Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand after spreading rapidly from Cambodia.

Malaria is caused by parasites which are carried by mosquitoes and spread through their blood-sucking bites.

And scientists have discovered a growing number of cases where the parasite has mutated making it resistant to drugs.

“We discovered (it) had spread aggressively, replacing local malaria parasites, and had become the dominant strain in Vietnam, Laos and northeastern Thailand,” said Roberto Amato, from the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Malaria can be successfully treated with medicines if it is caught early enough, but resistance to anti-malarial drugs is growing in many parts of the world, especially in south east Asia.

The first-line treatment for malaria in many parts of Asia in the last decade has been a combination of dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine, also known as DHA-PPQ.

Researchers found in previous work that a strain of malaria had evolved and spread across Cambodia between 2007 and 2013 that was resistant to both drugs.

This latest research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found it has crossed borders and tightened its grip.

“The speed at which these resistant malaria parasites have spread in south east Asia is very worrying,” said Olivo Miotto, who co-led the work.

“Other drugs may be effective at the moment but the situation is extremely fragile and this study highlights that urgent action is needed.”

Almost 220 million people were infected with malaria in 2017, according to World Health Organisation estimates, and the disease killed 400,000 of them.

The vast majority of cases and deaths are among babies and children in sub-Saharan Africa.

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