3,000 ducks in Kaohsiung culled due to bird flu infection

First case of H5N5 avian flu reported at a farm in Kaohsiung. Though H5N5 does not affect people it is deadly to ducks

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The first case of H5N5 avian influenza has been reported in Taiwan  (CNA photo)

The first case of H5N5 avian influenza has been reported in Taiwan (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — More than 3,000 mule, or sterile, ducks have been culled due to a H5N5 subtype infection of the highly pathogenic avian influenza, which is the first reported case in Taiwan.

Tu Wen-chen (杜文珍), deputy director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said 3,583 ducks from a farm in the Qishan District of Kaohsiung City were confirmed as having the H5N5 virus on Sept. 13 and were killed by the authorities. The bureau later also inspected five other duck farms within a 3-kilometer distance.

Samples from these ducks did not show any symptoms of infection when they were taken for examination. The bureau visited 30 duck farms in six cities and counties in southern Taiwan from Aug. 23 to Sept. 12 to test if any poultry had contracted seasonal diseases.

According to Chiou Chwei-jang (邱垂章), director-general of the Animal Health Research Institute, the H5N5 virus could have been transmitted through infected wild birds from Europe, Asia, or other parts of the world. China reported H5N5 infections in 2008, and there have been a handful of H5N5 cases found in wild birds or poultry farms in Europe over the past two years, he added.

The H5N5 virus does not affect human beings, but is highly pathogenic and fatal to poultry. Tu Wen-chen said the bureau will continue carrying out inspections at poultry farms across Taiwan and conduct sample tests in avian flu-affected areas.

The bureau urged poultry farmers to conduct rigorous disinfection and cleaning operations at their farms.