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Government stages conference over 16,000 piglet deaths

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Agricultural governing bodies yesterday staged a conference to address the persistent spread of the porcine diarrhea epidemic.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BOAPHIQ, 防疫局), Council of Agriculture yesterday staged a conference to gather recommendations from veterinarians on curbing the spread of a recent bout of porcine diarrhea. The BOAPHIQ yesterday stated that effective immediately, experts will be dispatched throughout Taiwan's pig farms to prevent the spread of the disease.

According to Council of Agriculture officials, the spread of the porcine diarrhea epidemic may be caused by inadequate decontamination measures for persons and vehicles involved in the transport of livestock, in addition to the pig farms themselves.

Symptoms of the epidemic where first detected in October last year, with over 127,000 pigs reported to be infected as of Feb. 12. Currently, six out of seven Pingtung-based pig farms operated by the Taiwan Sugar Corporation (台糖) have succumbed to the epidemic, while about half of the pig farms in Yunlin reported cases of infected piglets.

Veterinarians remarked that there had been no precedent for the particular viral strain responsible for the current epidemic in Taiwan, and as a result casualty rates are high among afflicted piglets due to a lack of naturally developed antigens. Veterinarians also criticized the lack of action by governing bodies and stated that the epidemic could have been easily curbed by administering imported vaccines, which would equip the next generation of piglets with vital antigens that may ward off the disease.

Governing bodies yesterday advised all persons involved in pig farming and the transport of livestock to improve decontamination measures and refrain from visiting pig farms in China and other neighboring South Eastern Asian nations, as a misstep may lead to repeated outbreaks of the disease.

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