Focus Taiwan, Taipei, by Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu. Jan. 11 2015. A new type of the H5N2 avian influenza virus detected at goose farms in southern Taiwan has never been seen before, the director-general of Taiwan’s government-run Animal Health Research Institute said Sunday.
Tsai Hsiang-jung said the H5N2 subtype flu strain is a recombinant virus, and “after reporting the case to the World Organization for Animal Health, it will be the first of its kind in the world.” The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture confirmed Sunday an outbreak of the new H5N2 strain at four goose farms in Yunlin County and a duck egg farm in Pingtung County.
It also confirmed an outbreak of H5N8 avian flu at a goose farm in Chiayi County. A total of 24 farms raising ducks and geese around Taiwan sent tissue samples to be tested amid suspicions that their birds may have been infected with avian flu. The outbreak started on Jan. 8 at a farm in Da-Lin Township, Chiayi County and killed 3,683 out of 5,200 birds, the Taiwanese authorities said in a report to the Paris-based OIE. The strain is the same as in other cases found in Europe, North America and elsewhere in Asia in the past year.
Six farms were found to be infected by two viruses that had never been detected in Taiwan before, the bureau said. After analyzing the new H5N2 subtype, the bureau said the H5 subtype was 99 percent similar to that seen in the H5N8 flu virus that attacked South Korea in 2014, while the N2 subtype was 96 percent similar to the virus that hit China’s Jilin Province in 2011.
The H5N8 infection found in tissue samples from geese raised on a farm in Dalin Township in Chiayi County was identified as similar to the South Korean H5N8 avian flu virus, according to the bureau. The H5 subtype is 99 percent similar to the Korean strain, while the N8 subtype is 98 percent similar, the bureau said. Both the new H5N2 and the H5N8 virus strains are highly pathogenic, the bureau noted.