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Animals with H7N9 must be put down: COA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan (COA) said yesterday that it had finished an amendment to the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease, which altered several regulations, including the listing of H7N9 avian flu as a critical zoonosis which requires the infected animal to be killed due to the danger it presents to humans.

Deputy Director-General of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Chao Pan-hua (趙磐華) said that in the past the law only regulates zoonosis, or an infection disease transmitted to humans only via animals, which have high pathogenicity.

However, although H7N9 is categorized as a low-pathogenicity virus, it is lethal to humans, so the COA adopted the suggestion of the Minister of Health and Welfare to include H7N9 under the law, which the COA can use to take certain action if H7N9 starts to spread in Taiwan in the future, stated Chao.

Chao pointed out that the amendment's focus is on Article 20, which originally only dealt with high-pathogenicity transmissible animal diseases. After the alteration, the animal infected by low-pathogenicity transmissible animal diseases, categorized as type B and type C, will be culled if needed. The COA also said the owner of the farm where animals need to be culled will receive full compensation.

In addition, the amendment says that people should report situations involving animal disease to the COA immediately.

In order to prevent the spread of diseases, the COA will also focus on the sanitation management at every chicken farm as well as transportation vehicles and tools. According to the amendment, everything should be sterilized, otherwise the owner of the farm could recieve a fine ranging from NT$10,000 to NT$50,000.

The COA also encouraged every farm which has egg products to deliver their products with disposal material such as cartons. By doing so, if there is any virus of avian flu, the virus will not be spread to stores and consumers through packaging.

The COA said the amendment is ready to be sent to the Legislative Yuan. However, the COA did not know when or if the protocol will be passed by the Legislative Yuan or not.

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CEO of the National Animal Industry Foundation Li Chuen-jin (李春進) holds a box of eggs packaged in a disposable carton, yesterday. Li said 70 percent of egg sellers still use plastic boxes to transport their products, which may have sanitary issues and transmit avian influenza if not washed. Therefore, Li encourages sellers to use disposable material to package their egg products. (CNA)

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