There are reports North Korea is suffering from an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which threatens to exacerbate already dire food shortages.
South Korea’s Yonhap newspaper is quoting an intelligence official as saying that the North is unable to carry out quarantine and sanitation efforts because of a lack of medicine and equipment.
The epidemic may take a toll on North Korea’s military, which raises livestock to feed its troops.
The country has been suffering from persistent food shortages and it is believed people are eating infected cattle and pigs instead of burying them.
Meanwhile, South Korea has culled about 15 per cent of its combined pig and cattle population to contain outbreaks of foot and mouth disease there.
It has so far confirmed 120 cases, up from last week’s count of 116.
The nationwide epidemic originated in pigs more than a month ago, and has rapidly spread to six provinces.