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Changhua chicken farm infected with H5N2 avian flu

Changhua chicken farm infected with H5N2 avian flu

The Changhua Animal Disease Control Center disinfected the egg farm, where over 54,000 birds have been culled over the past three days, to prevent the highly virulent bird flu from spreading.
Animal health and quarantine officials sterilized a chicken farm in central Taiwan yesterday after an outbreak of the H5N2 strain of avian influenza occurred there in December.
The Changhua Animal Disease Control Center disinfected the egg farm, where over 54,000 birds have been culled over the past three days, to prevent the highly virulent bird flu from spreading.
The farm was the only one in the county to have had a confirmed outbreak, officials from the center said, adding that test results for another Changhua farm were still pending.
Despite the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus being detected, the death rate of hens at the farm was around 0.035 percent daily for three consecutive days, lower than 0.05 percent at other chicken farms, the center’s staff stated.
Some 16 million egg-laying chickens are raised in Changhua, and the incident has not had much impact on the industry, the center noted.
For an outbreak of the highly pathogenic bird flu to be confirmed, a farm’s daily death rates of animals should be higher than the normal range between 0.05 and 0.075 percent for three consecutive days, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture.
The bureau reiterated on Sunday that the subtype H5N2 is a disease among animals and cannot be transmitted to humans. It urged the public to not be worried about the outbreak if they purchase certified poultry or meat with a Certified Agricultural Standards label.
In response to accusations that the bureau had covered up the highly contagious outbreak, the bureau said the Changhua administration began an investigation as soon as the abnormal number of of bird deaths was reported on Dec. 27, 2011.
From Dec. 31, when it imposed restrictions on transportation of the infected birds, to the day it completed its cull, the birds did not show any apparent symptoms of infection and death rates were below normal levels.
December’s Changhua outbreak was different from other documented highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks, the bureau added.
Two meetings have so far been held to discuss the case, in which the virus appeared to be a low pathnogenic in certain tests but highly pathogenic after DNA tests, the bureau noted.
Hsu Tien-lai, director of the bureau, resigned after the confirmed outbreak in Changhua and one in the southern city of Tainan, which resulted in the culling of 57,500 birds on Saturday.
Director accuses government of hiding outbreak of bird flu
The Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture “might have tried to conceal” an outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza in central Taiwan, a documentary director said Saturday.
Li Hui-ren, whose documentary won the Taiwan Excellent Journalism Award in 2011, said he reported the case to the council’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine last December when the bureau attempted to downplay the epidemic.
Li, who had been a cameraman with a TV station for 15 years, has been working on the bird flu issue for six years and spent over NT$1 million (US$33,936) finishing his investigative report. He released the documentary, entitled “Unspeakable Secret,” online last July.
The bureau arbitrarily raised the threshold and saw the outbreak as a “potential case” of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza, he claimed, adding that he will continue gathering evidence to support his accusation.
Taiwan confirmed the first outbreak of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza early Saturday, with 57,500 chickens culled in the Tainan and Changhua areas.
An egg-laying chicken farm in Changhua reported the disease on Dec. 27, 2011, while infections among chickens at the farm in Tainan were detected on Feb. 7, 2012, according to COA officials.
The highly infectious H5N2 avian influenza can only be recognized when the daily number of dead chickens has reached over 0.075 percent for three days in a row, while those at the egg-laying chicken farm in Changhua were below the norm, according to the bureau.
However, Li said that the bureau “arbitrarily changed the standard again,” charging that it added the death rate standard to whitewash the situation. In 2010, Li also filed a similar charge against the bureau, which is still being reviewed, according to the director.
In response, bureau officials said that all statistics it provides are meant to present the facts.
Meanwhile, investigators said Sunday that they have begun looking into the case, after receiving information in mid-January. Civil servants could face a maximum of 10 years in prison if it is proven that their negligence results in a hazard to the public.


Updated : 2021-02-26 10:02 GMT+08:00