Mon, Jun 19, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Taoyuan ponds affected as fish virus spreads

‘NOT AN ISSUE’:Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan said fish farmers needed help and compensation, even as officials said food security would not be affected

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

An outbreak of tilapia lake virus that has killed a large number of the fish in Taoyuan would not infect other animals or people, Council of Agriculture officials said yesterday.

The agency’s Animal Health Research Institute on Monday last week confirmed that a large number of tilapia found dead at a fish farm in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) had contracted the virus, which is foreign to Taiwan.

The council on Friday invited experts to form an ad hoc committee to discuss ways to deal with the outbreak.

The virus mainly affects certain species of tilapia, which see mortality rates of up to 90 percent, the council said in a press statement.

Infected fish might display reduced energy levels, swollen eyes and bleeding, the council said.

“People and land animals are not susceptible to the virus,” the council said.

Asked about whether infected tilapia could have been sold on the market, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine’s Animal Quarantine Division chief Peng Ming-hsing (彭明興) yesterday said that was impossible because infected fish could easily be identified by vendors and would not be sold.

“Food security is not an issue in this case,” the bureau’s Deputy Director General Shih Tai-hua (施泰華) said. “Even if someone ate infected tilapia, they would not be infected.”

A total of 900,000 tilapia had been imported from China so far this year, Shih said.

However, the species of tilapia imported from China is not susceptible to the virus and authorities are still determining the source of the virus, he said.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said the epidemic had dealt a serious blow to fish markets and the council should not be negligent just because people will not be infected.

The nation’s tilapia exports are withering and the tilapia industry might soon disappear if domestic consumers would continue to lose confidence in the fish, Cheng warned.

The council should fight the outbreak with an “iron fist” by killing all infected fish immediately and offering full reimbursement to affected fish farmers, he said.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health’s disease report last month, the pathogen environment of the virus is fresh and brackish water, but its original source is not yet known.

Additional reporting by Chiu Yi-tung

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