Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

First case of H5N6 virus confirmed in Hualien

DEAD GOOSE:Emergency containment measures were enacted after it was confirmed that a goose died from the highly pathogenic avian flu virus, authorities said

By Lin Hui-chin, Lin Yen-tung and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Health authorities yesterday confirmed the nation’s first case of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N6 virus, after a dead goose tested positive in Hualien County’s Yuli Township (玉里).

The Wild Bird Society of Taipei turned in the dead goose from Yuli to the county government’s Animal and Plant Disease Control Center on Thursday, and emergency containment measures were enacted after it was confirmed that the bird died from the virus, center director Huang Shih-yi (黃詩伊) said.

The center conducted sterilization operations and took samples from two duck farms within a 1.5km radius of where the avian flu virus was found, Huang said, adding that the tests have so far not revealed any new cases.

Sanitization vehicles were dispatched to the area as a part of continuing efforts to contain and sterilize the disease, Huang said.

She encouraged farmers to report any abnormal or unexplained poultry deaths, or reduced or loss of appetite or declines in egg production at their farms.

These measures are crucial to prevent the spread of the disease, she added.

The nation’s avian flu outbreaks last year were caused by the H5N2 and the HPAI strain H5N8. Authorities had culled 1.06 million poultry nationwide as of Tuesday last week, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.

According to the bureau, there were 16 cases of human H5N6 infection in China from 2014 to last year, including 11 fatalities; eight of the cases were linked to exposure to domesticated birds or live poultry markets.

Although H5N6 is less infectious to humans than H7N9, it has a high human fatality rate of about 70 percent, Centers of Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.

The Council of Agriculture has been working with the CDC to monitor all personnel and poultry farms within a 3km radius of where the bird flu was found, Lo said.

The H5N6 is a subtype of the species Influenza A virus capable of jumping from birds to humans. Two other bird flu variants had in the past spread in the nation: the H5N1 was indigenous and had a fatality rate of 60 percent, while the H7N9 was imported from abroad and had a fatality rate of 30 percent, sources said.

Human infections are primarily caused by exposure to infected birds, including their environment, secretions and excrements, with a latency period of between one to 10 days.

To avoid contracting avian flu, people should follow good hygiene practices, such as washing their hands often, avoid exposure to live poulty and ensure that they cook eggs or chicken, ducks and geese thoroughly, Hualien County Health Bureau Director Lee Hung-maan (李宏滿) said.

People who experience flu-like symptoms — such as fever and coughing — should wear a face mask and see a doctor immediately, Lee said, adding that they must tell their doctor if they have had any contact with animals and their travel history.

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