Japan’s outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) affects a radius of only about six miles in the southern part of the country, but the number of cases is growing rapidly.

Japan suspended beef exports on April 20 after three cows were suspected of being infected in Miyazaki Prefecture, the first cases since 2000.

Since then the disease has spread to pigs, also resulting in suspension of exports.

The number of cases has grown to about 64,300, mostly pigs – the first time that Japan has had FMD in pigs, according to Japanese officials.

Local residents and officials have been working daily to dispose of infected animals and disinfect facilities, but the mushrooming number of cases is stretching local resources.

Japan exported about 660 tons of beef in the year to March 31, while importing 475,200 tons of beef. It exported 2,387 tons of pork in 2009, while importing 896,500 tons of pork in fiscal year 2008/09.

Miyazaki’s farms account for 9% of an estimated 9.9 million pigs in Japan and about 7% of Japan’s estimated 4.5 million cows. The prefecture has the second-largest number of pigs and the third-largest number of cows in Japan.