Tue, Feb 03, 2015 - Page 3 News List

COA confirms avian flu spread to Taitung farm

PREVENTION:With the virus spreading east, officials are taking more precautionary measures, such as travel bans, to ensure that Hualien and Yilan are unaffected

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The avian influenza outbreaks that have wreaked havoc on the poultry industry since December has spread to Taitung County. Sampling results issued by the Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday on a broiler chicken farm in the county tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5 subtype.

The newly confirmed case came after a Hsinchu-based chicken farm was on Sunday found to have been hit by the new H5N2 subtype, resulting in the culling of about 72,400 chickens.

The latest inspection results delivered yet another blow to the council’s efforts to prevent a further widening of the viruses’ spread among chickens, the nation’s largest source of poultry meat.

Although samples collected from the site tested negative during preliminary sampling, further testing tied them to the highly pathogenic subtype, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director-General Chang Su-san (張淑賢) said.

The Taitung facility had about 200 chickens, 130 of which had died since avian flu-like symptoms were reported, with the rest exterminated yesterday, she added.

With a series of cold fronts having swept the country in recent weeks, which often drove down temperatures well below 18°C — the optimal temperature for raising chickens — to between 11°C and 13°C, Chang highlighted the danger of poultry contracting bird flu from cold stress and urged poultry farmers to improve insulation and ventilation at their facilities.

Taitung Animal and Plant Health Inspection Institute Director-

General Chen Chih-feng (陳志峰) said the H5N2 strain found its way into the east despite a “joint disease prevention front” that had been formed between Taitung, Yilan and Hualien counties, which enforced measures such as banning vehicles carrying chicken manure and live fowl from entering these regions via the Suhua Highway and the South-link Highway.

“From now on, poultry being transported from Taitung to Taipei will have to take a southerly detour to Pingtung County to make sure that Hualien and Yilan remain unaffected,” Chen said.

Asked if the strains have crossed the Central Mountain Range to eastern Taiwan, Animal Health Research Institute Director-General Tsai Hsiang-jung (蔡向榮) said a black crowned night heron fledgling in Greater Tainan had been found carrying the new H5N2 strain, and that resident or migratory birds could be responsible for the spread of H5N2 to Taitung.

As of yesterday, a total of 75 chicken farms in Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties, as well as Greater Tainan, had been confirmed to have been hit by the highly pathogenic H5 strain, of which H5N2 were detected at 24 facilities, while the total number of birds exterminated rose to about 2.14 million, council statistics showed.

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