A third highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza that is new to Taiwan was identified Friday as outbreaks of bird flu have spread to more poultry farms on the island, animal health authorities said Friday.

Chang Su-san, director general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, told a press conference that birds on 101 goose, duck and chicken farms in northern, central and southern parts of the island have been confirmed to be infected with the H5N2, H5N8 or H5N3 subtypes of bird flu virus.

Tsai Hsiang-jung, director general of the Animal Health Research Institute under the Cabinet’s Council of Agriculture, said DNA sequencing indicates it is a hybrid of an N3 strain responsible for the outbreaks Thailand in 2012, in Mongolia in 2010, and Kaohsiung last year, and an H5 strain responsible for outbreaks among poultry in South Korea last year. The new strain – H5N3 – was found at two goose farms in Kaohsiung and Pingung, both in southern Taiwan, marking the first time for the strain to be identified in Taiwan.

The new H5N2 strain has so far only been found in Taiwan. DNA sequencing indicates it is a hybrid of an H5N2 strain that was responsible for outbreaks among poultry in South Korea last year and China in 2011.

As for the H5N8 subtype, the latest bird flu outbreaks mark the first time for it to be identified in Taiwan. Outbreaks among poultry were reported in Europe, South Korea, China and Japan last year. It is believed to pose little or no risk to humans.

Authorities indicated that the viruses may have been carried to Taiwan by migratory birds.

On a press conference, organized by the animal welfare organization EAST in Taipei on Friday January 29 2015, the Taiwanese authorities said that they would respect the OIE Terrestrial Code on Killing of Animals for Disease Prevention and Control during culling operations, indicating that they are using approved techniques to apply CO2. The techniques are generally described in the OIE Terrestrial Code. The code does not provide the Standard Operational Procedures to apply these techniques. Applying CO2 by adding a gas tube into a plastic bag is not described as an approved method.

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