Taipei, May 28 (CNA) More than 8,000 sheep infected with goat pox virus (GPV) , a disease that can be spread by the saliva, feces or skin of sheep, have been culled across Taiwan recently, health authorities said Friday.
According to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPIQ) under the Council of Agriculture, 8,419 sheep at 56 farms scattered in nine cities and counties in Taiwan have been killed as a result of a rapid spread of the epidemic.
There are nearly 3,000 sheep farms around Taiwan, which raise more than 200,000 animals.
Taiwan reported the first sheep pox (goat pox) case in July 2008, which broke out in a ranch in northern Taoyuan County among a flock of goats that were allegedly smuggled into Taiwan.
The second case erupted in early April this year, when close to 800 GPV-infected sheep in central Taiwan's Yunlin County were killed.
"As the epidemic has showed no signs of abating, it is hard to predict when it would ease up, " BAPIQ Director-General Hsu Tian-lai said, noting that goats from two more farms were detected to have contracted goat pox virus Friday afternoon.
Goats at the two ranches need to be observed at least for three months to six months to determine whether the epidemic still lingers, he explained.
He added that his bureau is considering purchasing 50,000 vaccines from a pharmaceutical company in Jordan to contain the epidemic.
(By S. M. Yang and Flor Wang)