Taiwan's animal quarantine authorities slaughter hundreds of chickens on a farm in Chiayi county on Saturday as part of efforts to contain bird flu. Photo: CNA

NewTaiwan culls 150,000 poultry following bird flu outbreak across island

Eleven farms confirmed infected with variant of virus transmittable to humans

Animal quarantine authorities in Taiwan have slaughtered at least 150,000 poultry after an outbreak of the bird flu in many counties and cities on the self-ruled island.

On Saturday, 11 farms in Hualien, Tainan, Chiayi and Yunlin were confirmed as having been infected with the H5N6 virus, which is highly contagious and transmittable to humans, according to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture.

In Yunlin county, Taiwan's top poultry producer, more than 22,000 chickens on a farm in Shuilin were culled with the help of the military on Saturday as part of efforts to fight the virus, the official Central News Agency reported.

At least nine farms around Taiwan were confirmed as having been infected with the H5N6 virus since February 6, according to the agriculture council. The authorities identified the island’s first case of a type H5 virus in a dead goose in Hualien on February 2, putting the island’s poultry industry on high alert.

More type H5 virus was found on many farms, including 400 dead chickens discarded by farmers in Hsinchu county on Thursday.

In order to contain the spread of the virus, the council banned the transportation and slaughter of poultry for seven days, starting from Friday.

The Taipei city government said on Friday it had detected bird flu in a chicken slaughtered at the city’s poultry wholesale market two days ago.

The bird was one in a batch of 2,450 chickens from a farm in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung that had been sent to Taipei for sale, according to Taipei’s Department of Economic Development.

It was reported to animal quarantine authorities for tests after it was found with suspicious symptoms including swollen eyes; red skin on its abdomen, legs and wings; and intestinal bleeding, decay and necrosis, while being slaughtered on Wednesday, the department said.

Test results released on Friday indicate the chicken was infected with the H5N2 virus, which is not transmittable to humans, the department said, urging the public not to panic.

The recent outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu in Taiwan have put authorities on high alert because that variant is highly contagious and transmittable to humans.

Last year, the agriculture council encouraged poultry farmers to report outbreak by subsidising them for up to 60 per cent of any losses.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Taiwan culls thousands of birds after flu outbreak