The Taiwan Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine have identified a third highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza (AI), a novel H5N3 AI has been detected on two goose farms in Kaohsiung and Pingung, in Southern Taiwan.

Taiwan map/CIA
Taiwan map/CIA

According to a Bangkok Post report, 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.

Authorities said the new strain could be a hybrid of H5N8 and H5N2 strains, which were found in South Korea last year, and the H5N2 subtype discovered four years ago in China’s northeastern Jilin Province.

More than 100,000 infected geese and ducks have died or have been culled since the outbreak. Another 240,000 are being tested for H5 strains. If the final results show that they are all infected, more than 10 per cent of Taiwan’s 1.77 million geese would need to be destroyed.

Concerns about the supply of geese for the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, The Year of the Goat begins on February 19, 2015,  were addressed by the Council of Agriculture: “We slaughtered 300 million chickens a year, 5.5 million geese and 30 million ducks. Overall poultry supply should be sufficient.”