Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Smuggled birds with H5N1 virus confiscated at airport

Staff writer, with CNA

A batch of smuggled birds carrying the H5N1 avian influenza virus was discovered at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and destroyed without anyone being infected, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

Thirty-eight live birds were found in the carry-on luggage of a Taiwanese traveler returning from Macau on July 7.

A few days later, laboratory test results showed that the birds, bought in Guangzhou, China, were carrying the virus.

“This marks the third time the virus has been detected at the nation’s borders,” Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩) said, adding that the previous cases were found in smuggled poultry in 2003 and 2005.

The smuggler and eight other individuals who had been in close contact with him were monitored for any signs of disease, but as of Monday, they had not displayed symptoms, Chou said.

The CDC destroyed the birds and informed the relevant authorities in Macau and China, he said.

There has not yet been a confirmed case of human H5N1 infection in Taiwan, according to CDC statistics.

Figures from the WHO showed that there have been 607 reported cases of human H5N1 infection worldwide since 2003 and 358 people have died from the disease.

The mortality rate is as high as 60 percent.

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