2005-11-15 / REUTERS /
found a highly pathogenic strain of avian flu, H7N3, in droppings left by a
migratory bird and is carrying out tests to see if the virus has spread to
nearby poultry farms, the agriculture department said yesterday.
Like the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed more than 60 people
around Asia, the H7N3 strain can infect humans, said an official at the Council
"We are most concerned about the H5 and H7, as these two can infect people
and fowl," said Huang Kwo-ching, director of the animal health inspection
division at the Council of Agriculture.
"We are now carrying out testing at poultry farms within a three-kilometer
radius of the area," he said by telephone.
The single sample of H7N3 was found in marsh land in the southern city of
Tainan, the Council of Agriculture said in a statement, adding that no dead
birds were found in the area.
It was the second time the strain has been detected in Taiwan. The first case
of H7N3 was discovered in the outskirts of Taipei in April, said the official.
The H7N3, which can potentially be transmitted to humans, was first detected
in turkeys in Britain in 1963 and made one of its last known appearances in
poultry in Canada in April and May 2004, according to the World Health
Organization and World Organization for Animal Health.
According to the WHO, H5 and H7 viruses are the only avian influenza subtypes
that are implicated in outbreaks of highly pathogenic disease.
The WHO recommends aggressive control measures, including culling of infected
and exposed poultry, for these two subtypes even when the virus initially shows
Taiwan has not experienced a major outbreak of H5N1. Last month, the island
found only its second case of the deadly strain since 2003, in birds smuggled in
a container ship from China.
An outbreak of the lesser H5N2 strain of bird flu in Taiwan in 2004 led to
the culling of hundreds of thousands of fowl.