An infectious and occasionally fatal cattle disease known as lumpy skin disease has been found on the outlying island of Kinmen, and is believed to have been spread from China, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.
Kinmen County officials reported suspected cases of the disease on Wednesday, after cattle on a 548-head livestock research farm developed symptoms, including elevated lesions on their skin, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director-General Tu Wen-jane (杜文珍) told a news conference.
The affected animals were tested and diagnosed with lumpy skin disease — the first cases of the mosquito-borne viral disease ever recorded in Taiwan, Tu said.
The virus found in the animals had a genome sequence 99 percent similar to a strain reported in China last year, she added.
COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said he had reported the outbreak to Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and would set up an emergency response center to ensure it is contained.
The council also ordered an immediate freeze on shipments of fresh beef from Kinmen to Taiwan proper, although the virus does not infect humans, and said it would report the cases to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
The Kinmen County Government said it had culled 23 cattle at the affected facility yesterday and was carrying out tests at 47 farms in the vicinity of the outbreak.
Lumpy skin disease has an incubation period of up to 28 days, causes illness in 10 to 20 percent of infected animals and death in 1 to 5 percent, Tu said.
Although China notified the OIE of the disease’s presence in Xinjiang in August last year, it has yet to acknowledge cases in Fujian Province reported by the media last month, Huang said.
Given the proximity of Kinmen to the Fujian coast, the COA believes the virus was likely spread by mosquitoes crossing over from China, Huang said.
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