H5 bird flu epidemic may spread in Taiwan

H5 bird flu epidemic may spread in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Council of Agriculture's (COA) Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) emphasised in a public announcement yesterday that recent cold fronts could exacerbate the spread of the H5 bird flu epidemic that has been sweeping the nation.

BAPHIQ also indicated that out of an additional 22 farms that sent in samples, 21 of them tested positive for one of the bird flu strains, making for a grand total of 622 farms that have been infected, according to a report carried by the United Evening News.

Of the new farms, 18 of them are goose farms, two duck and two chicken. A grand total of 3,938,395 birds were inspected throughout the campaign.

As of now, the majority of culled birds are geese. In total, 523 goose farms have been infected, 33 duck farms and 66 chicken farms. The total number of farms targeted for culling rose by 26 for a total of 564 farms. Of the 2,967,376 animals in those targeted farms, 1,935,348 have been slaughtered, according to BAPHIQ.

In addition to warning about the cold weather, BAPHIQ also gave a reminder that the transmission risk for chickens is still considered severe by the COA, even though the epidemic has mostly affected geese.

BAPHIQ appealed to poultry farmers not to underestimate the effect of the cold weather and recommended that farmers ensure their holding facilities are properly insulated and ventilated to contain and protect their livestock.

BAPHIQ indicated that since the bird flu broke out at the end of 2014, all the culling of poultry on infected farms conducted by local authorities and COA personnel has been carried out in a swift manner to minimise the amount of pain the animals endured and was conducted in a humane manner.

These comments were given in response to criticism last week from animal protection group Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST).

When questioned about some personnel conducting poultry culling in inhumane ways, BAPHIQ emphasised that they are requesting respective local government officials to conduct a follow-up investigation. Local governments were also reminded to carry out future implementations in a humane and speedy manner.

No Legitimate Reason for Prices to Rise: CPC

The Legislative Yuan's Consumer Protection Committee (CPC) stated yesterday that the CPC had previously consulted with electric slaughterhouse firms, including Charoen Pokphand Enterprise and Dachan Greatwall Group, on cutting prices for chicken breasts and thighs by NT$5 before the Lunar New Year in order to stabilize market prices.

The CPC stated that as of this past weekend, there should be no reason for wholesale chicken prices to increase.

After the bird flu outbreaks, the government took efforts to closely monitor the national poultry market for illegitimate activity such as price fixing, hoarding, etc. and set temporary regulations on slaughtering. The CPC has urged consumers to avidly compare prices and shop around before settling on any meat to ensure that they are getting the best deal.

The CPC is also discouraging consumers from buying illegally sold meat and has indicated that such vendors may not be abiding by sanitation standards.

Some chicken retailers claim that real chicken retail prices started to rise yesterday, even though the COA obtained data indicating no such increase in prices.

Some retailers explained that they have been forced to raise prices due to increased transportation costs coming from the top of the supply chain, which means higher delivery costs from slaughterhouses.

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