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Ciptapangan Visitor
Officials step up efforts in H5N1 prevention
posted by admin on 19/10/06

Taiwan also set up 10 stations to monitor migratory birds and created an alert system to be activated if any of the birds are found to be carrying H5N1.

Taiwan is covering its poultry and pig farms with nets to prevent migratory birds from infecting local flocks and livestock with the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, an agricultural official said on Tuesday.

The island is a sanctuary for birds escaping the harsh Siberian winter. Each September they migrate to Taiwan, across Japan and Korea or over the east coast of China -- a country that has suffered at least 14 human deaths from the virus since 2003.

Taiwan has not reported any human cases of H5N1, but several fowl smuggled from China tested positive last year.

"Migratory birds are a key risk factor for bird flu, and smuggled birds another," said Huang Kuo-chin, an Agricultural Council official in charge of quarantine.

As a precaution against the spread of the disease, the Cabinet allocated NT$1 billion toward plastic and steel netting to cover the island's 20,000 poultry and pig farms. Farm owners are expected to cover half their costs.

Huang said the first farms to get the nets were those near marshes and swamps where migratory birds settle.

He said farm owners were willing to pay part of the costs because the nets also guard against migratory birds stealing feed.

Taiwan also set up 10 stations to monitor migratory birds and created an alert system to be activated if any of the birds are found to be carrying H5N1.

"Although we haven't had any confirmed bird flu cases, Taiwan is one of the Southeast Asian countries that has taken the most stringent precautionary measures," Huang said.

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