The first case was reported from a pig farm on Monday [File: EPA]

South Korea has began culling more than 55,000 animals in an attempt to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth (FMD)disease in the country.

The culling began on Thursday in areas near the southeastern city of Andong where the first cases were reported from a pig farm three days earlier.

All 84 livestock markets in the country have been shut down to prevent spreading of the animal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals such as pigs, cows and sheep.

Yonhap news agency reported on Monday that all farms within a 20-kilometre radius of the affected livestock had been prohibited from selling or removing any of their animals from the area.

The ministry of food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries said it will supply farms with emergency
funds of $15m.

The latest outbreak could halt the country's exports of pork products that only resumed in early October after South Korea regained status as a FMD-free nation,

There were reports of FMD cases in the country in April and January this year, and a few others in 2002.

The disease does not affect humans, except in some extremely rare cases, but it is a great threat to the agriculture industry.

Source: Agencies