The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is again alerting travelers to and from South Korea to be careful not to transport a notorious livestock illness, Foot-and-Mouth Disease, to Hawaii. Ranchers and livestock operators in the state are also strongly encouraged to review their biosecurity practices to prevent the virus from being transmitted to their farms and ranches. They are also being advised to be vigilant for symptoms of the disease.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cattle, swine, sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals. Although humans are not susceptible to the disease, unsuspecting travelers may transport the virus to non-infected regions. To date, FMD has not been detected in the U.S.
A similar advisory by the State Veterinarian Dr. James Foppoli was issued in May 2010 when both S. Korea and Japan were experiencing FMD outbreaks. Extreme disease control efforts in Japan resulted in the outbreak being declared over in October 2010. This latest outbreak in S. Korea was reported in December 2010 and so far, more than 1.7 million animals have been culled and more than 1 million animals have been vaccinated to try and stop the spread of the disease.
"We are advising recent travelers to and from South Korea to refrain from visiting Hawaii farms, ranches and zoos," said James Foppoli, state veterinarian with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. "Travelers going abroad, especially to countries in Asia, should avoid contact with animals, or areas where animals have been held, for at least five days before returning to Hawai`i and should avoid contact with animals for at least five days after returning to Hawaii."
Read the full release from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.