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PROPHYLACTICS: The CDC has prepared 1.97 million N95 surgical masks, 510,000 protective clothing suits and about 45 million other types of surgical masks
By Lin Yan-tan, Lu Yi-hsuan and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporters, with staff writer
A farm in Chiayi yesterday became the nation’s latest poultry farm to test positive for the highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza virus strain.
Comprehensive test results should be available today, the Chiayi County Department of Agriculture said, adding that county inspectors found contaminated chickens at an unlicensed butcher’s shop in a traditional market.
The news came after a turkey farm in Tainan was on Sunday confirmed to have H5N6-infected birds, following the first confirmed H5N6 infection in the nation last week at a poultry farm in Hualien County and a case in Yilan County on Saturday.
Later yesterday, another poultry farm in Hualien was also declared infected.
A case of H5N2 contamination was confirmed at a chicken farm in the county’s Taisi Township （台西）, Yulin County Animal and Plant Disease Control Center Director Liao Pei-chung （廖培志） said separately yesterday.
The confirmation resulted in the culling of 3,900 chickens, bringing the total number of birds culled in the county to more than 130,000 so far this year, he said, adding that the authorities then disinfected nearby areas to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Cabinet on Sunday established a Central Epidemic Response Center.
The center held its first meeting yesterday, during which Premier Lin Chuan （林全） called on local governments to work with the central government to make preparations and adopt measures to contain the disease.
He added that if the outbreak continues, the Cabinet would take further measures, such as imposing border or movement controls.
Centers for Disease Control （CDC） Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang （莊人祥） yesterday urged people to avoid visiting live poultry markets or poultry farms and not to eat raw eggs to avoid H5N6 infections.
However, Chuang said humans can only become infected with the virus if a person is exposed to an environment where the virus is active, so only poultry farmers and personnel culling the infected animals are now at risk.
The centers have been working closely with the Council of Agriculture and local health bureaus since Feb. 5 to ensure that personnel who are responsible for culling and disposal of carcasses wear protective clothing and N95 surgical masks, he said.
All personnel connected with the recent cases have been monitored by the centers for possible infection, Chuang said, adding that aside from checking on such personnel every day, the centers have also instructed medical facilities to ask patients with flu-like symptoms whether they had been near poultry carcasses.
The centers have prepared 1.97 million N95 surgical masks, 510,000 sets of protective clothing and about 45 million other types of surgical masks to serve as disease prevention equipment, Chuang said.
The Taipei Department of Environmental Protection yesterday warned the public not to feed wild birds, adding that the maximum fine for feeding wild birds is NT$6,000.
The department would be monitoring areas in the city such as the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall complex and Daan Forest Park, which usually attract flocks of wild birds, department official Yang Wei-hsiu （楊維修） said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party （KMT） caucus yesterday called a news conference, demanding that the central government make the “maximum effort” to prevent a nationalmomo購物網
The situation is “a matter of national security,” KMT Legislator Alicia Wang （王育敏） said, urging the government to remain on guard, as farmers might conceal incidents of contamination at their facilities.
KMT Legislator Arthur Chen （陳宜民） called on Taiwanese travelers and businesspeople to remain vigilant, as cases of H5N6 infection in humans have been reported in China.
Additional reporting by Huang Shu-li and CNA