South Korea confirms foot-and-mouth outbreak at pig farm

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea has confirmed a case of foot-and-mouth disease at a hog farm, the country's first outbreak in more than three years, a provincial government statement said on Thursday.

The case comes as Asia's fourth-largest economy strives to contain a six-month long outbreak of bird flu, which has pushed pork prices to multi-year highs due to demand for an alternative meat supplies.

Testing had confirmed a suspected foot-and-mouth case at a hog farm in Uiseong country, more than 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of Seoul, the statement from the Gyeonsangbuk-do provincial government said.

Further test results by the country's quarantine office will be unveiled later the day, it said. The agriculture ministry said late on Wednesday that hogs at the affected farm would be slaughtered if foot-and-mouth was confirmed.

The outbreak could lead to a rise in pork and beef imports.

Pork prices are at three-year highs following the country's worst outbreak of foot-and-mouth in 2010-2011 that led to the culling of a third of its hog population and cost billions of dollars to contain.

High pork prices have led to forecasts of increased beef imports as consumers to look for alternative meats, according to government data and industry sources.

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