The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday said it plans to eradicate avian flu viruses by stepping up monitoring and prevention measures at domestic poultry farms as it opened its new Research Center for Avian Influenza Control and Prevention.
There have been 90 cases of highly pathogenic avian flu, mostly the H5N2 virus strain, at poultry farms nationwide, and 670,919 fowls had been culled as of 6pm yesterday, COA data showed.
Farms that raise chickens, ducks or produce chicken eggs are more likely to see outbreaks of bird flu, especially when some farms tend to keep fowls of different ages together, creating a hotbed for viruses, council Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said at the inauguration ceremony in Taipei.
The peak season for avian flu is November to March each year, when the weather is cooler and migratory birds fly to Taiwan to spend the winter, center researcher Tsai Ching-ping (蔡敬屏) said.
The center is tasked with collecting data about avian flu, installing a visualized data system for the disease’s changing conditions, and preventing and containing outbreaks, Tsai said.
The center has identified 22 townships and districts in Pingtung, Yunlin and Changhua counties, as well as Tainan and Kaohsiung, as high-risk areas, where it would step up monitoring of farms, he said, adding that the center would issue warnings about the disease via text messages if necessary.
Wild birds are potential carriers of the virus, Tsai said, calling on people to avoid touching wild birds and contact between livestock and wild birds.
In addition to the council’s affiliated agencies, the center is also to pool resources with the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Centers for Disease Control.
To prevent the transfer of avian flu to humans, the two agencies would promote collaboration between physicians and veterinarians, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.
The centers’ role is to protect humans from being infected by avian flu and to improve public awareness about the threat emanating from domestic, as well as overseas farms, particularly in China, Lo added.
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