First ever H5N6 case confirmed in Taiwan

The bird flu strain of H5N6 was discovered in a dead goose near Hualien County’s Yuli Township.

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The first case of H5N6 avian influenza has been confirmed in Taiwan, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Monday.

According to CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo, the bird flu strain of H5N6 was discovered in a dead goose near Hualien County’s Yuli Township. The body of the goose was reported, tested and later confirmed the presence of the H5N6 strain of bird flu.

The neighboring countries of Japan and South Korea have been battling with a H5N6 outbreak since October last year. Mass culls of poultry stocks in an effort to curb the highly contagious strain of bird influenza have been carried out by the authorities in the two countries.

While spreading fast, Philip Lo said today during an interview that bird-to-human transmission of the H5N6 is uncommon, urging the public to remain calm and exercise good personal and food hygiene.

So far, China was the only country with confirmed human H5N6 infection cases. A total of 16 cases of human infections of H5N6 have been reported since 2014. Eleven of those have died.

Initiatives for epidemic control have been launched by the CDC. The health of the poultry farmers working in the neighborhood is being cautiously watched, while animals within 3 kilometers of the infected farm will be tested for the virus, the CDC said.

Meanwhile, the CDC has urged the nation’s poultry farm owners to be vigilant for signs of avian influenza and report any suspected case to the authorities in a timely manner, and to strengthen protection and sanitation as winter is the prime season for bird flu outbreaks.