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September 26, 2017

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New strain of bird flu found in Pingtung

A farm in Pingtung County's Wantan Township (萬丹) has been discovered to have been infected with H5N3, a new strain of bird flu spreading across the country, according to reports from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ). The Pingtung County Government stated yesterday that 53 geese were found dead on the farm in Wantan after a sample from the farm was sent for testing on Nov. 11, 2014. Approximately 1,900 geese from the farm were relocated and quarantined, according to the county government.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) stated yesterday that all branches of the Executive Yuan should be collaborating more closely to form a contingency plan and standard operating procedures for dealing with epidemic situations in the face of the recent bird flu outbreaks across the island.

Wang stated at the national Legislative Yuan forum yesterday that in addition to the Council of Agriculture's (COA) processing of infected farms, all relevant departments and affected local governments should work together to strengthen preventative measures against future outbreaks. Wang said that although there are no recorded occurrences of H5N2 or H5N8 strains of bird flu infecting humans, related government departments should remain on high alert and operate with high transparency, or otherwise face disastrous consequences in the case of human transmission. An example Wang cited was the lack of a national testing centers in the south of Taiwan, which has required all samples to be sent to the COA's headquarters in the north. Wang believes these increased measures could save the government money in the long run as it would avoid expenses such as the statutory 60-percent subsidy that the government pays out to farmers.

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