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Chen Bao-Ji, minister of the Council of Agriculture, said that the H5N8 virus was first found at a farm in Chiayi, where more than 5,000 were infested. From the eight poultry farms in Chiayi, six were contaminated, and a total of over 13,000 birds have died. As Taiwan’s quarantine director has declared, migration might have played a role.
This is the first case of the H5N8 avian flu that was ever observed in Taiwan, and it is possible that it might have struck this country on account of the migratory birds, Chang Su-san, the official from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, confirmed.
Last year, a strain of the virus has hit South Korea, China and Europe, triggering massive amounts of dead poultry. To this date, there have been declared no human infestations, therefore, it is thought that the risk of infecting the human population is low.
For the first time in Taiwan, H5N2, another highly pathogenic strain of the virus, has simultaneously hit four other goose farms in Yunlin, a city in proximity of Chiayi.
In order to avoid an outbreak and to diminish the risk of human infestations, Taiwanese authorities have decided the killing of nearly 16,000 ducks and geese. The infestation has claimed the lives on an additional 120,000 chickens.
Officials have declared that special measures to stop the infection from spreading are underway. They have asked farmers to tighten the security of their farms, strengthening the birds’ nets and keeping an eye out for wild birds, avoiding, as much as possible, any contact with them.
Also, animal health administrators have ordered the full stop of any poultry slaughterhouses on the island for sterilization. Testing of all poultry on a 2 miles radius of the contaminated farms has already begun. The transportation of poultry will also be held under strict control and observation in the infected parts of the country.
The H2N8 and H2N2 viruses have claimed no human lives thus far, and no case of human infestation is known of yet, although both strains of the influenza virus are similar to those confirmed in South Korea last year.
Although there have been a couple of birds brought in from China that have tested positive in 2005 and 2012, Taiwan has no recorded occurrence of deadly H5N1 strain.
Image Source: DW