Seoul, Feb 11 (Yonhap) A UN agency handling agriculturalmatters will send a group of experts to North Korea next weekto help the country contain foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), theRadio Free Asia (RFA) said in a report today.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UNwill dispatch "three to five experts, including aveterinarian," to North Korea to determine what sort ofassistance North Koreans will need in light of the FMDoutbreak, the RFA reported.
Citing an anonymous FAO official, the report said theagency held an emergency meeting immediately after North Korearequested aid earlier this week.
"We''re very pleased that North Korea informed us of itsFMD outbreak and officially asked for help," the official wasquoted as saying.
North Korea confirmed for the first time that it had beenhit with the highly contagious livestock disease yesterday.
According to the North''s state-run Korean Central NewsAgency (KCNA), the FMD first broke out in the capital city,Pyongyang, late last year, and has since spread to eightprovinces.
The disease has claimed the lives of thousands of cowsand pigs and has affected more than 10,000 others.
The KCNA report was released hours after the RFA said theNorth had reported the outbreak to the FAO.
South Korea has also been battling FMD that has spreadnationwide in the last three months and caused more than 3million livestock to be culled. It remains unclear whether thedisease spread from the South to the North.
In 2007, North Korea suffered outbreaks of the disease,prompting South Korea to dispatch a team of animal healthexperts amid a mood of reconciliation.
Citing recent visitors to the impoverished neighbor,South Korean officials said last month that the North isbelieved to be stepping up its quarantine efforts afteroutbreaks were reported.
South and North Korea are divided by one of the world''smost heavily fortified borders. Most cross-border exchangeshave come to a halt over the last three years.
North Korea has banned the inflow of pork and beef fromSouth Korea since late last year for fear that the disease mayspread there. (Yonhap)