The Council of Agriculture yesterday announced the latest inspection results of the widening avian influenza outbreaks that hit the nation’s poultry farming sector last week, which found three more broiler goose farms in Pingtung County that had been struck by the H5N3 subtype, after the virus strain was identified for the first time in Taiwan on Friday.
The latest statistics showed that 142 poultry farms across the nation were hit by the highly pathogenic strains consisting of the H5 subtype, of which 57 had been culled.
The viruses have affected a total of 222,896 birds, of which 89,806 were exterminated by local authorities; the rest had died before extermination began, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Director-General Chang Su-san (張淑賢) said.
The tally does not include the 122,000 layer chickens that were exterminated last month at a farm on Pingtung County’s Dawu Mountain (大武山), which was the earliest reported incident, although it was linked to an older H5N2 strain that had struck the nation before, Chang said.
In an effort to contain the viruses from spreading further among poultry — after a chicken farm in Greater Tainan was found to have been struck by a yet-to-be-identified virus on Wednesday, resulting in the deaths and culling of about 17,400 broiler chickens — Chang said that more than 20 farms within a 3km radius of the Greater Tainan facility would have to obtain health certificates from veterinarians for their poultry before they are allowed to be slaughtered.
The rule was originally meant for disease control among waterfowl, which have born the brunt of the outbreaks.
Those who violate the inspection rule can be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$1 million (US$1,589 and US$31,780) under article 43 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例) and will not receive any compensation from the council in the case of an outbreak, Chang said.
The results of the analysis on the virus in question are due to be released today, she added.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has pledged to clamp down on poultry farmers who illegally discard poultry in public areas, which could exacerbate the outbreaks.
EPA Bureau of Environmental Inspection Director-General Hsiao Ching-lang (蕭清郎) said the bureau has teamed up with local environmental protection agencies to redouble inspection efforts after it came to light earlier this week that some poultry farmers inadequately discarded hundreds of dead geese along the Yunlin Irrigation Canal.
“The intensive inspections are meant to induce fear among potential violators. We will immediately clear away any inadequately disposed poultry from the scene and contact local animal disease prevention agencies.”
Hsiao said the bureau monitors the EPA’s public nuisance reporting system every two hours and would act immediately upon receiving word of any potential violation.
He called on the public to report any case of potentially illegal poultry disposal to the EPA by calling 0800-066-666.