Taiwan reports first-ever H5N5 avian influenza case

Taipei-Taiwan has confirmed the country's first case of the highly pathogenic H5N5 strain of avian influenza on a duck farm in Cishan District, Kaohsiung, Council of Agriculture (COA) Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (???) said Monday.

The virus was identified Sept. 12 as an H5 subtype and was confirmed as H5N5 the following day. The case has been reported to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), according to Huang.

According to OIE regulations, H5N5-free status can be regained if no new cases are detected within three months of preventive measures and surveillance, including disinfection of all affected establishments, Huang said.

It is hoped that the surveillance plan can be completed during the three-month period from Sept. 12 to Dec. 12, he added.

The H5N5 case was the first in Taiwan but was not the first in Asia. The first H5N5 virus in Asia was detected in China in 2011, according to the COA.

However, the source of the virus is still unknown, according to Huang.

The virus detected on the Cishan duck farm led to the culling of 3,583 ducks, according to Tu Wen-chen (???), deputy chief of the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

Rapid diagnostic tests for detecting the highly pathogenic virus were conducted on five nearby farms, all of which showed negative results, meaning that the virus has not spread to other areas, Tu said.

High-risk areas for avian flu outbreaks in Taiwan are mainly in 18 townships in Changhua, Yunlin and Pingtung counties, as well as Tainan and Kaohsiung.

In recent years, most avian flu infections have been in these hot spots. Last year, 92 out of 98 cases were in these areas, while this year, 54 out of 55 cases were recorded there, according to Tu.

H5N5 cannot be transmitted from animals to humans. Between 2016 and 2018, 15 H5N5 cases were reported among wild birds in Europe, as well as some cases reported on three turkey farms in Germany and four poultry farms in Croatia.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel