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Central Taiwan bird flu outbreak leads to culling of 15,000 hens

Arrival of winter and migratory birds puts poultry farms on alert for bird flu

Taiwan culls first batch of hens infected with bird flu this winter. (CNA photo)

Taiwan culls first batch of hens infected with bird flu this winter. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A poultry farm in Yunlin County’s Gukeng Township culled all 15,374 of its laying hens on Monday (Nov. 27) after becoming the first case of H5N1 reported domestically this winter.

The farm noticed abnormal laying conditions among its hens last Wednesday (Nov. 22), and a few days later, bird flu was confirmed, leading to the culling of the entire farm, including 35,000 eggs. The poultry farm came online in April and had only raised its first batch of laying hens, per PTS.

As the weather turns cooler, laying hens are more susceptible to bird flu. Additionally, local poultry farms are at risk of contact with an increasing number of migratory birds arriving in Taiwan, making epidemic prevention work more critical.

"Birds often make use of islands to rest on their migration routes ... Taiwan is very important in this manner, with many wild birds potentially being carriers of the H5N1 virus," said Yunlin County Animal Disease Control Center staffer Cheng An-guo (鄭安國).

According to the Yunlin County Animal Disease Control Center, there have been a total of 12 cases of bird flu in Yunlin County this year. When compared with the same period over the past three years, there has been no increase in H5N1.

The center did add that the onset of winter each year is when bird flu is most likely to occur in Taiwan. It called upon poultry farms to increase awareness of the virus and take more preventative measures, such as disinfecting the surrounding environment to avoid losses.