Taiwan poultry firm owners suffering from flu to notify hospital of profession

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday demanded poultry business owners who are suffering from flu symptoms to seek medical treatment immediately and notify the hospital of their profession so that the relevant authorities can conduct H7N9 influenza inspections more easily.

Huang Guo-ching, the deputy director of the COA, said that the council will also double the number of random inspections on migratory birds and fowl from 12,000 to 24,000 annually.

"H7N9 does not produce any symptoms in fowl, so the COA is taking more precautions to prevent a potential influenza outbreak," Huang said.

"The COA would also like to ask poultry business owners to go to a doctor immediately when they start to show flu symptoms, instead of waiting until the condition worsens," the deputy director added.

"It is important to let medical personnel know that the patient is in the poultry business so that they can run a test to verify if the patient is suffering from H7N9," Huang said.

The COA can also track the source and make sure if the location in which the patient keeps poultry or fowl contains the H7N9 influenza virus, according to Huang.

Poultry-related businesses, Huang added, include people who keep, transport, cook, or sell fowl and poultry.

NAIF to Negotiate Poultry Price with Business Owners

COA Minister Chen Bao-ji said that the National Animal Industry Foundation (NAIF) will negotiate poultry prices with slaughterhouse owners so that consumers can make reasonable purchases.

Chen also stressed that consumers should choose poultry provided by legal slaughterhouses in order to ensure food safety and sanitation.

When asked about Hualien County Government's decision to ban the slaughtering of fowl in traditional markets starting April 26 instead of May 17, which was set by the central government, Chen responded that May 17 is actually the deadline as opposed to the new regulation's launch date.

"I thank Hualien County Government for launching the new regulation earlier, because it makes it easier (for officials) to promote the regulation," said Chen.

CECC confirmed Taiwan's first case of H7N9 avian influenza on April 24. The patient is a 53-year-old Taiwanese citizen who had worked in China's Jiangsu province.

In light of the confirmed case, the government announced on Thursday that it will launch a ban on the slaughtering of fowl in traditional markets from May 17.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah recently also asked the COA to communicate with slaughterhouses and set up support measures before launching the ban.