Taipei, March 4 (CNA) Animal health and quarantine officials sterilized a chicken farm in central Taiwan on Sunday 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.
(By Wu Jhe-hao, Lin Hui-chun and Kendra Lin)
Read More: Focus Taiwan