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Penghu reports high pathologic H5N2 avian flu; chickens culled

2012/12/08 19:16

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) Outlying Penghu Island has reported the first highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak and all chickens on the affected farm have been destroyed, an official from the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Friday.

Huang Kuo-ching, deputy director of the COA’s Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said the owner of the chicken farm first detected a massive die-off of 150 chickens Nov. 19 and alerted the health authorities.

Another 50 chickens died the next day and test results obtained Nov. 22 showed that H5N2 was to blame, prompting the Penghu county government to order the surviving 431 chickens killed.

According to scholars, the H5N2 virus is normally low pathogenic, but the latest outbreak was caused by a highly pathogenic strain that they said could be a mutation of the virus.

Huang said the farmer had bought chickens at an auction in Chiayi Nov. 14 and speculated that the outbreak was caused by these birds.

There are three other chickens farms around the affected one, but the bureau said it had detected no abnormalities so far, although it added that safety can only be assured after a three-month observation period.

(By Yang Shu-min and Lilian Wu)ENDITEM/J