Outbreaks of avian influenza at several sites across Taiwan may cause a shortage of poultry products and price fluctuations in the market, experts fear.
Taiwan Poultry Association Secretary General Wang Chien-pei says the spread of the virus could make it hard to meet demand for poultry ahead of the approaching Spring Festival.
“We usually need two million poultry to meet customers’ demand for Spring Festival. But our investigation shows that there are only 1.5 million now.”
The supply shortage may cause price hikes, but concerns over the risk of bird-flu infection may drag the price down again. Local epidemic control authorities recently tested poultry from 24 facilities across Taiwan after suspected two strains of avian influenza were reported. H5N8 bird flu virus was found in Chiayi County and H5N2 virus has been reported in Pingtung County affecting 120,000 birds.
Abnormal mortalities in four goose farms in Yun-Lin County and an acute egg drop syndrome in a layer duck farm in Ping-Tung County were noticed early January 2015, according to a report submitted to the OIE. Local disease control center staff went to these farms to conduct movement restrictions and clinical inspection and then sent dead geese and layer ducks samples to the National Laboratory for diagnosis where highly pathogenic avian influenza strain was confirmed.
It is worth noting that H and N genes of these isolates are different from the H5N2 strains previously isolated in Taiwan. The homology of H5 between the isolates from these infected farms and the South Korea 2014 H5N8 strain is near 99%. This H5N2 strain is obviously novel to Taiwan and all the geese and ducks on the infected farm will be culled.
Thorough cleaning and disinfection will be conducted after stamping out operation. Surrounding poultry farms within a 3 km radius of the infected farm are under intensified surveillance for 3 months.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Center for Food Safety has banned all egg imports from Taiwan with immediate effect due to the outbreaks. About 6 million poultry eggs were imported into Hong Kong from Taiwan between January and November last year.