12 Apr 2010

Border officials on alert over foot and mouth outbreak

2:01 pm on 12 April 2010

Biosecurity officials will be keeping a close eye on people arriving from South Korea, after the second outbreak of foot and mouth disease there this year.

More than 25,000 pigs and cattle are being culled in an area north-west of Seoul to contain the highly contagious livestock disease.

It follows an outbreak in a northern region of South Korea in January.

MAF Biosecurity acting deputy director general Steve Stuart says border officials will be paying extra attention to flights arriving from Seoul.

"People are likely to be asked a number of additional questions to confirm where they've come from, and if there's any risk of foot and mouth disease - and if so, we'd take the appropriate action."

Federated Farmers' biosecurity spokesperson, John Hartnell, says foot and mouth has the potential to make its way to New Zealand on a direct flight, because it can be transferred through dirt on people's shoes.

Mr Hartnell says New Zealand's biosecurity rules are quite strict, and he's sure officials will be looking closely at people arriving from Seoul.

He says foot and mouth outbreaks are fairly regular in Asia. The last to have occurred in South Korea was in January.