Taiwan is planning to ban live poultry trade and slaughtering in traditional markets by 2008 to prevent possible avian flu outbreaks, according to a government official.
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza began to hit Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia in 2004 before spreading to Europe, Africa and other parts of the world more recently.
To ensure Taiwan’s protection from avian flu, the government has put the anti-avian flu task on the list of affairs related to national security.
At a national security meeting on avian flu in March, President Chen Shui-bian instructed related agencies to study the possibility of prohibiting live poultry slaughter in traditional markets to prevent avian flu being transmitted from poultry to humans.
An interministerial ad hoc group will present a series of measures next month to prevent an avian flu outbreak in Taiwan, including an increase of qualified electrical slaughterhouses around the island and educating poultry vendors and the public on how to prevent the disease.
Some academics believe that the popularity of live poultry slaughter in Asia’s traditional markets causes the transmission of avian flu.
Many poultry vendors opposed the policy at the beginning due to fear that they will lose customers who prefer to buy newly killed poultry, Taipei city government officials said.
However, they are now more willing to accept the policy since they believe that it will attract more clients in the long run, the official added.
According to the officials, there are some 400 poultry vendors selling newly slaughtered poultry in Taipei.