The test results can then provide agricultural departments with a basis for handling H6N1 infections on chicken farms, and inform other countries about how to prevent the spread of low-pathogenicity H6N1.
H6N1 infection is widespread among domestic fowl in Taiwan, with a higher than 20 percent prevalence among poultry. The strain is also widespread among swine.
Test results from the year 2000 onward show that infection is present in about 10 percent of pig farms and that 1 percent of pigs have antibodies to the virus.
Six of the gene segments in the H5N2 bird flu virus that broke in 2011 originated from H6N1 through reassortment.
The spread and evolution of H6N1 should make health authorities pay careful attention to the question of whether the strain might develop into a new and virulent kind of bird flu virus, as happened with H7N9.
Lai Shiow-suey is an honorary professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at National Taiwan University.
Translated by Drew Cameron and Julian Clegg