The Council of Agriculture yesterday confirmed that the more than 3,000 chickens that died in Yunlin County in the past four days were infected with highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza, making this the sixth such outbreak in the country this year.
About 15,000 more chickens were culled yesterday to eliminate all 18,000 birds at the chicken farm in Beigang Township (北港), where the outbreak occurred, and prevent the disease from spreading, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Huang Kwo-ching (黃國青) said in the afternoon.
The highly pathogenic case was confirmed by the council’s Animal Health Research Institute through sequence analysis of the virus yesterday, Huang said, adding that the council took emergency prevention measures of clinical examination and epidemiological investigation within a 3km radius of the farm.
Lu Cheng-chang (呂政璋), head of the county’s Agriculture Department, said none of the potentially infected chickens had entered the market because movement in and out of the farm has been restricted since the unusually high number of deaths was first noticed.
The department has requested the military dispatch soldiers to help disinfect the area within 3km of the farm. No similar infection has been detected in other chicken farms in the county, Lu said.
More than 13 million chickens are currently being raised on more than 900 farms in Yunlin, Lu said.
He said any farms infected with bird flu will be quarantined for at least 21 days before they are allowed to raise animals again. None of the other five affected farms has resumed operations, he said.
Huang said the sequence analysis showed the virus in Yunlin was similar to the highly pathogenic case found in Greater Tainan’s Lioujia District (六甲) in February, both of which have high death rates.
Asked why the virus was discovered almost two months after the last reported case in Pingtung County’s Yenpu Township (鹽埔) in March, Huang said this showed the virus had not yet been eliminated.
Huang said vehicles for transporting chickens, non-disinfected cages and the footwear or clothing worn by people moving between farms were all possible means of transmitting the virus.
Additional reporting by CNA