The numbers are changing almost by the hour, and no one knows for sure just how widespread this outbreak really is, but for now Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture has announced that avian flu (H5N8 or H5N2) has been detected on at least 20 farms – and some media reports put the number of farms under suspicion of infection at triple that.
What is apparent is that this is not a localized outbreak, affecting a single county or cluster of farms.
First this update from Taiwan Today, after which I’ll return with a bit more on Taiwan’s bird flu woes.
Source： Taiwan Today
Taiwan is ramping up efforts to contain a potential outbreak of bird flu following the discovery of H5N2 and H5N8 viruses in 20 southern Taiwan poultry farms, according to the Council of Agriculture Jan. 13.
A new variant of the H5N2 strain was confirmed in Pingtung and Yunlin counties, with the highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H5N8 detected in Chiayi County, the COA Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.
“Lab tests conducted by the Animal Health Research Institute show that the aberrant H5N2 variant resembles a composite of cases reported in South Korea and mainland China’s Jilin province, while the H5N8 virus is closely related to a strain found in the former last year."
While there are reportedly 8 poultry workers exhibiting mild flu-like symptoms who are being monitored, we’ve no indication that any of them have anything more exotic than seasonal colds or flu.
Headlines today from Taiwan’s Central News Agency include CDC calls for calm as bird flu spreads. To that end Taiwan’s CDC has published a Q&A on these two new avian viruses, which includes the following reassurance:
Q: poultry farms H5N8 or highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu virus will infect humans?
A: States to investigate the evidence so far shows that at present there is no H5N2, H5N8 report of the virus infecting humans, but if it's a lot of exposure as high risk personnel, such as livestock, animal-related workers, and so on, do not rule out possibility of opportunistic infections. As long as people have good health habits and positive attitude towards avian, no need to be overly concerned.
Review and update: 2015-01-13
Q: H5N1 avian influenza virus H5N2, H5N8 avian influenza viruses prevention method the same?
A: The precautionary approach is the same. People usually do not contact with unknown birds, dead birds, and so on, when you wash your poultry and bird droppings, must wear masks, gum gloves, wash hands cleaned with SOAP. Poultry meat and eggs, carefully cooked, there is no risk of contracting bird flu through diet.
This is not Taiwan’s first brush with avian influenza, although with two new and apparently already widespread strains to deal with, this could well be the most challenging.
Three years ago the director-general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) resigned after it was revealed he delayed action on an outbreak of what turned out to be HPAI H5N2 (see Asia One story Taiwan agency intentionally delays action on H5N2: Recording).
More recently Taiwan dealt with an outbreak of LPAI H5N3 back in 2013.
Given the high biosecurity standards for poultry farms in Taiwan, there will doubtless be a lot of questions surrounding how these two new avian viruses (H5N8 and a `new’ H5N2 strain) could have spread so rapidly across the island without alarm bells going off.
But for now, the focus is on containment and eradication.