Taiwan tests chickens in 3 new H5N2 cases

PHOTO: Taiwan tests chickens in 3 new H5N2 cases

TAIWAN - Tests result of two newly found H5N2 cases - one in Fangyuan township, Changhua County, and another in Mingjian township, Nantou County - were released yesterday.

Test results of the Fangyuan case suggest the virus found is of a highly pathogenic level.

The preliminary test results of the Mingjian case indicate that the virus is of a low pathogenic level.

Furthermore, in terms of the third newfound H5N2 case in Jutang township, Changhua County, the Council of Agriculture (COA) might cull chickens there before the tests result come up.

In terms of the Fangyuan case, tests suggest that the virus is of a highly pathogenic level.

The COA, however, still maintains that a meeting of experts is needed before taking any action, including culling chickens.

The death rate of chickens in the Fangyuan farm remains low, according to the COA.

As for the Mingjian case, the virus is found to be of three basic amino acids, fewer than the four required to be considered highly pathogenic.

The results of the test are still pending. No H5N2 was detected in farms within three kilometers from the Mingjian farm, stated the COA.

For the case in Jutang, although all the tests are still ongoing, due to the high and rising death rate in the Jutang farm, the COA might cull chickens in the farm before the tests are completed.

The farm owner did not report unusual massive deaths at his farm immediately to the COA and is inconsistent in his statement concerning the situation of his farm, stated Huang Kuo-ching, deputy minister of the COA.

The delay in reporting to the COA may incur a maximum fine of NT$50,000 (S$2,125), according to law.

The veterinarian of the Jutang farm also did not report the situation to the COA, which might result in the suspension of his or her license.

Based on law, farm owners can claim subsidies for three-fifths of their losses if their chickens are culled to prevent the spread of avian influenza.

The amount of the subsidies will not rise in the foreseeable future, stated Huang.

If the subsidies are substantial, farm owners may prefer to do nothing to contain the H5N2 and simply collect their money from the government, said Huang.