Pigs stand in a barn

Pigs stand in a barn May 8 at a pig farm in Jiangjiaqiao village in northern China's Hebei province.

South Korea, Asia’s fourth-biggest pork consumer, confirmed its first case of African swine fever at a farm near the border with the North, becoming the latest country in the region to be hit by the deadly hog disease.

The government lifted its warning to the highest level of “serious,” and placed a 48-hour lockdown on all hog farms across the country starting at 6:30 a.m. Sept. 17, said Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Hyeon-soo. A second suspected case was found in Yeoncheon, near where the first outbreak was reported, Yonhap TV reported late Sept. 17.

China, the world’s top hog producer, first reported an outbreak in August last year, and the highly contagious disease has since spread to countries including Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, the Philippines and North Korea, where the authorities reported the first case in May. South Korea is currently analyzing whether the virus is the same type that hit the rest of Asia, Kim said at a briefing.

South Korea’s live hog inventory was 11.3 million in June, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. China had more than 400 million pigs before the outbreak and herds there have since tumbled by almost 40%.

The country’s feed producers and manufacturers of veterinary products were among those that gained on reports of the outbreak. Cheil Bio Co. jumped 30% in Seoul, the daily limit and the most since 2002, while WooSung Feed Co. surged by the same amount.

Five sows died at the farm in Paju, located on the South Korean side of the border, about 105 miles from the North’s capital Pyongyang.

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