TAIWAN - A new outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza is causing particular alarm as it is the first on the eastern side of the island.
Avian influenza viruses have crossed Taiwan's Central Mountain Range, spreading to Taitung County in the eastern part of the country, reports Focus Taiwan.
A chicken farm in Taitung City has been confirmed to be infected with a highly pathogenic strain of the avian flu virus, officials at the Taitung County Bureau of Animal Health Inspection and Quarantine said on 2 February.
The farm's operator sent dead chickens for laboratory testing last week after seeing that half of the more than 200 chickens raised on his farm had died of haemorrhage, according to the bureau.
The test results produced late on 1 February showed positive for highly pathogenic avian flu but did not determine exactly the type of virus that is involved, the bureau said.
Upon learning about the outbreak, county chief, Huang Chien-ting, convened an emergency meeting to discuss necessary quarantine measures aimed at preventing the virus from spreading further in the agricultural county, which is home to more than 100 poultry farms, according to the local government.
Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties in eastern Taiwan have formed a united line of defence against avian flu since it began attacking poultry farms in the west in mid-January.
Measures have since been taken to restrict live poultry from being transported on main highways toward these counties. Despite all the efforts, however, the viruses have still found their way into the region.
As of 18:00h on 1 February, 655 poultry farms, mostly on the western part of the island, had been confirmed to be infected, according to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine. More than 2.1 million chicken, ducks and geese at 590 farms had been culled as part of quarantine measures.
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