Taiwan protects pig farms from AI

20-10-2006 | |

Taiwan is covering its pig farms with nets to prevent migratory birds from infecting pigs with the H5N1 Avian Influenza (AI) virus.

The island is visited by many birds escaping the harsh Siberian winter.
Each autumn they migrate to Taiwan, for instance across the East coast of China, which has suffered at least 14 human deaths from the AI virus since 2003.
Taiwan has not reported any human cases of H5N1, but some fowl from China tested positive in 2005.
Mixing vessels
Although pigs cannot transfer AI, several Asian pigs have been found to carry H5N1. This is a concern because the animals could act as ‘mixing vessels’, in which genetic material from AI could swap genes with human influenza viruses, potentially creating new strains.
Taiwan’s cabinet allocated US $30 million toward plastic and steel netting to cover the island’s 20,000 both poultry and pig farms.
Farm owners are expected to cover half their costs.
The first farms to get the nets were those near marshes and swamps where migratory birds settle.
Taiwan has also set up ten stations to monitor migratory birds and created an alert system to be activated if any of the bird is found to be carrying AI.