South Korea plans mass vaccination of cattle to contain lumpy skin disease

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea plans to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign to contain an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in cattle, the government said on Wednesday, after 29 cases have been reported since the first outbreak last week.

Authorities are in talks with domestic and foreign companies to secure 4 million doses of vaccine by the end of this month, an amount sufficient to inoculate all the cows in the country, the agriculture ministry said.

The highly infectious viral disease, which causes blisters and reduces milk production, is transmitted by blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and flies. It does not pose a risk to humans.

A total of 29 cases have been confirmed across South Korea as of Wednesday morning after the country reported its first outbreak of the disease at a cattle farm last week.

Authorities have culled all the cows at the affected facilities and imposed a temporary transport ban at nearby farms, while vaccinating cattle there using 540,000 doses they had in stock, the ministry said.

The government plans to complete the vaccination of all cattle in the country by early next month.

“If the nationwide vaccine inoculation is completed as planned, the outbreak of lumpy skin disease is expected to stabilise within November given the three-week period needed to develop antibodies for immunization,” the ministry said in a statement.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Ed Davies and Christian Schmollinger)