TAIWAN - Eleven new farms have tested positive for avian influenza in ducks and geese, bringing the total number affected to 20. Both highly pathogenic H5N8 and low-pathogenic H5N2 variants have been detected.
Eleven more farms raising ducks and geese, including two in Taoyuan in northern Taiwan, have been found to be infected with avian influenza, a sign that the virus has spread from southern Taiwan to the north, say the agriculture authorities.
According to Focus Taiwan, the latest tally brought to 20 the total number of poultry farms confirmed as being affected by the outbreaks.
Six of the farms are infected with the H5N8 virus, while the other 14 are infected with a new type of the H5N2 virus, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture (COA).
Except for the two in Taoyuan, all of the new additions were in southern Taiwan: one in Changhua County, five in Yunlin County, one in Chiayi County, one in Kaohsiung City and one in Pingtung County, the bureau said.
To date, the outbreaks have affected around 254,418, or 1.89 per cent, of the geese and ducks raised in Taiwan, according to bureau figures.
The bureau said, meanwhile, that it is also in the process of testing chickens at a farm in Tainan for possible bird flu infection.
The first case of bird flu in the recent outbreak was confirmed on 9 January, when a chicken farm in Pingtung County was found to be hit by the H5N2 virus.
But should the Tainan farm be found to be infected with the new H5N2 virus strain or H5N8, which had not been detected in Taiwan prior to the latest avian flu outbreak, it would be the first chicken farm affected by these new viruses and raise alarm bells in the industry.
According to the COA, there are 4,000 to 5,000 chicken farms around Taiwan, and they form the backbone of the country's poultry industry.
To prevent the virus from spreading further, Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji said that starting on 13 January, all farms infected with the H5 strain of the bird flu virus that have seen a death rate of 20 per cent or more within a span of two days will be subject to culling.
Also, reports Focus Taiwan, the COA will consider the possibility of extending a ban on killing geese and ducks in commercial slaughterhouses, he said.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
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