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October 21, 2005

Really bad news

Declan Butler at Connotea provided the link to a story in a Taiwan newspaper, The China Post, with probably the worst news since Qinghai Lake last summer. Taiwan has reported its first cases of avian flu, but they're not local poultry or infected migratory birds. They're from mainland China.

A group of smuggled birds that was stopped off the coast of Taiwan and destroyed on the spot five days ago tested positive for the H5N1 strain of the bird flu, the government announced yesterday as it reported Taiwan's first case of the virus which has killed sixty people in Asia.

A total of 1,037 birds along with a number of mice and turtles had been found on a Panama-registered ship traveling from China by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) last Friday off the coast of Taichung harbor.

Members from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) proceeded to board the ship and destroy the animals, fifty percent of which are already dead, after collecting samples of their excretions for further testing on last Saturday.

All of the ship's crew had been ordered to leave the country on their ship on Sunday except for one who was detained by authorities in Taichung for allegedly attempting to smuggle the animals into Taiwan.

The suspected smuggler, who according to local media brought the birds from Fuzhou, mainland China, has been in good health and showed no signs of being infected by the virus so far, BAPHIQ said. He will be receiving medication to prevent being infected.

long, long way from Qinghai Lake and the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Assuming the story's details are accurate, this means H5N1 is probably all over China. And whatever the authorities have done to control it, it hasn't worked.

Posted by dymaxion at October 21, 2005 08:30 AM

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