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Over 12,000 chickens, geese culled because of bird flu

Over 12,000 chickens, geese culled because of bird flu

Over 12,000 chickens and geese have been culled at two poultry farms in central and southern Taiwan after health officials confirmed bird flu infections at those farms, local government officials said Sunday.

Tung Meng-chih, director of the Animal Disease Control Center of Changhua County, said more than 10,000 locally bred chickens were destroyed at a poultry farm in Dacheng Township on Sunday after a high percentage of them were confirmed to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 Type B strain.

This was the fifth outbreak of bird flu in the county this year and the first since the start of the Lunar New Year on Feb. 8, Tung said.

At a goose farm in Liuying District in Tainan, 2,443 geese were culled Sunday after some of the dead geese tested positive for H5 bird flu virus infection, officials with the city's Animal Health and Protection Office said.

Animal health officials also disinfected an area within 1 kilometer from the goose farm where two other poultry farms are located, and the area will be closely monitored for three months to ensure the bird flu does not spread.

Both of the infected farms were closed to the outside and not vulnerable to infection by contact with wild birds, leading experts to think the infection was brought in from the outside.

Lee Chao-chuan, director of Tainan's Animal Health and Protection Office, said controls on the entry of humans, animals and biological matter into the farms are very important in preventing infections.

He urged farmers not to rush to introduce young geese onto their farms as some may be doing because of the high market price goose meat currently fetches after a harsh winter that saw a large number of geese wiped out by bird flu.

"Sanitizing the farms is critical before you start raising them," Lee said.

In Taipei, Council of Agriculture officials called on farmers to closely watch to see if there are any abnormal deaths or egg-laying rates among their poultry.

"Attention should also be paid to the birds' drinking and dieting habits. Farmers should call animal health authorities as soon as anything unusual is observed," a council official advised.