Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) A total of 5,847 chickens at a poultry farm in Tainan, a municipal city in southern Taiwan, were culled Thursday after the farm confirmed detecting the H5 strain of avian influenza virus, according to the Tainan City Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office.
Abnormal poultry deaths were first reported by the chicken farm in the Annan District before the beginning of the nine-day Lunar New Year holiday on Feb. 6, the office said.
The farm was immediately quarantined and tissue samples of dead chickens were collected, it added.
The results of laboratory tests of the samples confirmed Wednesday that the farm has been infected with the highly pathogenic H5N2 strain of avian influenza. Based on the results, a culling operation was implemented Thursday, followed by overall sterilization of the farm, the animal protection office said.
The avian flu outbreak has exacerbated the situation for the livestock industry in Tainan, which had already fallen victim to the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that battered the city Feb. 6.
The livestock losses from the quake are expected to reach more than NT$100 million (US$3.03 million) in the city, the office said.
The Tainan chicken farm was the 15th poultry farm around Taiwan hit by avian flu since the beginning of the year, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.
The outbreak had been under control since late January, when a devastating cold air wave hit Taiwan, said Shih Tai-hua (施泰華), deputy director-general of the bureau.
The January cold air surge dropped the mercury to a historic low and triggered unusual snow or hail in many places around the subtropical island.
(By Kuo Chu-chen, Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)ENDITEM/ke