Bird Flu Hits Taiwan

Taiwanese agricultural officials recently reported the first outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza.

After fears of a global pandemic did not materialize, bird flu faded from the American consciousness. However, several strains of bird flu remain a serious threat in Southeast Asia. Last month, scientists discovered a new strain of the disease in Vietnam and health officials there are worried that it might spread globally. An international spread of bird flu could be devastating to human health and agricultural production.

While the H5N2 virus in Taiwan is not transmissible to humans, it has already caused significant damage to the Taiwanese agricultural sector.

In response to the announcement, the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture culled about 53,000 birds at a Changhua County farm earlier this week, with another 4,500 meeting the same fate last month. While there are no signs that the flu has spread to other farms, Taiwanese officials want to be sure and have already reported the outbreak to the World Health Organization.

In addition to culling thousands of birds, the Council of Agriculture has imposed a poultry export ban, which is expected to cost about 600 million New Taiwan dollars, or nearly a quarter of a million American dollars.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer