Australian beef prices in its main export markets have risen sharply following the discovery of a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, in the US.

According to Meat & Livestock Australia, prices of Australian beef in Japan's wholesale market for imported beef have risen by half since 19 December.

Meanwhile, prices for Australian beef in South Korea's wholesale market have risen by up to 40% since 19 December, and export prices to the US have risen modestly, reported Dow Jones International News.

"It is difficult to predict where export prices of Australian beef to Japan and Korea will settle, with the trade only just restarting after the Christmas break, a number of major (meat)works yet to reopen in Australia and the Australian dollar appreciating further," Meat & Livestock Australia was quoted as saying.

Japan and South Korea were among several countries to ban imports of US beef following the discovery of a case of BSE in Washington state in December.