Poultry culls ongoing as farms face bird flu cases

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Mass poultry culls continued yesterday as the avian flu outbreak showed no signs of abating, with agricultural officials reiterating a new rule requiring farmers to produce clean bills of health in order for their birds to be handled at slaughterhouses. The Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA), providing updates to the bird flu outbreak, said a total of 142 poultry farms that raised about 770,000 birds have been confirmed to have been infected by the avian flu, and 89,829 domesticated birds from 57 farms have been culled as of Friday afternoon. Local officials in various regions said they would cull more birds yesterday as they stepped up efforts trying to contain the outbreak. In Chiayi, officials said they planned to kill more than 24,100 geese at seven farms during the day, while in Taoyuan, more than 22,000 geese were culled at a single farm in the morning. In Yunlin, agricultural officials said they have culled more than 41,000 birds at 35 farms so far. The COA said that in order to contain the outbreak, farmers will have to provide documents from veterinarians certifying the health of their poultry when sending their birds to slaughterhouses starting from today. Anyone refusing to comply with the regulation or violating it could be slapped with fines ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$1 million, the COA said. The COA said it has also implemented measures to stabilize poultry supply to the market, and it has also asked the consumer authorities to monitor any irregular pricing. To support the battle against bird flu, Taipei City transported protective gear to Yunlin County in Southern Taiwan for workers carrying out disinfection work. Taipei health officials said there are no boundaries as far as the fight to contain the bird flu is concerned.

The Defense Ministry also said it will increase support to local governments in their battle to contain the bird flu. The military has been sending troops to help with the disinfection work. Farmers must report to authorities if they suspect that their poultry have fallen prey to the bird flu viruses, agricultural officials said. Unauthorized personnel are also prohibited from entering poultry farms and slaughterhouses, the officials said. In Yunlin, four people have been arrested for illegally disposing of dead poultry. The COA reiterated calls on the general public to avoid coming into contact with birds while visiting infected areas. Fowl eggs and meat must be well cooked before eating, the COA said, adding the bird flu viruses will be killed at temperatures above 70 degrees Celsius.