By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter
Two more poultry farms in Pingtung County have been infected with the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N2 strain and another H5 subtype, following an alert issued on Friday regarding an avian flu outbreak in Japan and other countries, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
Japan, South Korea, Italy and other European countries are experiencing avian flu epidemics, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Shih Tai-hua （施泰華） said on Friday.
Japan is one of the areas worst hit by the virus, with a farm in Japan’s Kagawa Prefecture found to have been infected with an H5 subtype virus, prompting the council to ban poultry imported from the country, Shih said, adding that the farm culled 92,000 chickens on Thursday.
Since the beginning of this year, five farms in Taiwan — three in Yunlin County’s Dongshih （東勢） and Huwei （虎尾） townships and two in Pingtung’s Yanpu Township （鹽埔） — were confirmed to have been infected with H5 viruses, and 65,753 fowls had been culled as of 6pm yesterday, council data showed.
A poultry farm in Yanpu had 39,000 ducks culled yesterday, according to the council.
From Tuesday until March 31, duck farmers are required to present examination reports that prove their ducks are not infected with bird flu, or they cannot send their ducks to slaughterhouses or markets, Shih said yesterday.
Poultry farmers should make their coops as clean and warm as possible, since chickens are more likely to be infected with bird flu in cold weather, the council said.
The council said it would continue monitoring 90 chicken farms until March 31, while 360 farms raising egg-laying chickens are monitored throughout the year.
While most infection cases are reported in the central and southern regions, the council also received reports about people dumping dead fowls in rivers in northern Taoyuan and Chiayi County.
People who dump dead birds or fail to report infections face a fine of NT$50,000 to NT$1 million （US$1,689 and US$33,784）, it said.
Pingtung County Animal Disease Control Center personnel cull chickens at a farm in the county’s Yanpu Townhsip on Friday. Photo provided by the Pingtung County Animal Disease Control Center