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AI strains plague Taiwanese poultry sector

Taiwan is continuing to battle multiple avian influenza outbreaks, including some involving what is described as a new strain of H5N3, reports state.

The new strain of highly pathogenic H5N3 struck two goose farms in Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties in Taiwan, killing all 53 geese on the Pingtung farm, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Taiwan Animal Health Research Institute Director-General Tsai Hsiang-jung said the virus represents a new recombination. The H5 (hemagglutinin) component is 99% similar to that of a South Korean virus, while the N3 (neuraminidase) component is 98% similar to that of a 2011 H1N3 virus from Thailand, an H2N3 found in Mongolian mallards in 2010, and an H5N3 found in wild ducks in Taiwan in 2013.

"It is certain the H5N3 detected in geese raised at farms was found in Taiwan for the first time," Tsai said.

According to one report, 101 of 137 farms tested across seven Taiwanese counties have been hit by avian flu recently. Of the 137 farms, 124 are goose farms and house 24% of Taiwan's domestic goose population. 17 outbreaks have officially been reported to the OIE.

Taiwan said it had begun culling an additional 22,000 birds Saturday after they tested positive for the H5N2 strain of the virus, in the island's worst bout of the disease in a decade. More than 200,000 birds have now been killed there in just over a week.

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