Despite Taiwan’s reassurance on the effectiveness of their poultry biosecurity measures, just a little over three weeks after their first farm infection was announced (see Taiwan: HPAI H5N2 Outbreak in Pingtung County), their mixed- subtype HPAI H5 outbreak has now spread to more than 650 farms, and has resulted in the culling of more than 2 million birds.
While the H5N8 virus was believed introduced by migratory birds, the post mortem analysis on how this virus has managed to spread so quickly, and to so many farms, will be of considerable interest.
As the following report notes, we are just a couple of week from the spring festival (aka Lunar New Year), an extended holiday that traditionally features both massive travel across Asia and the liberal consumption of poultry. For more on the public health challenges of this New Year’s celebration, you may wish to revisit last week’s Health Vigilance Urged For China’s Spring Festival.
This from Xinhua News.
TAIPEI, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- More than 2.14 million chicken, ducks and geese have been culled in Taiwan as one of the most severe avian flu outbreaks in a decade continues to cause huge losses, Taiwan's agriculture authority said on Monday.
Of all tested farms, 655 in 14 cities or counties have been confirmed as infected with H5 strains of the virus.
All cities and counties in the island have been required to complete their epidemic prevention plans for the Spring Festival period by Friday. Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb.19 this year, usually sees a surge in transportation and consumption of poultry and eggs.
As part of epidemic prevention, culls and disinfection of farms were carried out in affected areas, particularly in Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan and Pingtung.