Taiwan warns Britain over bird flu allegations

Taiwan plans to lodge a protest with Britain over allegations that it exported fowl infected with the bird flu virus, a Taiwanese health official affirmed, after the farm that raised the birds was found to be free of the disease.

Britain confirmed Sunday its first case of bird flu since 1992 in a parrot imported from South America. Debby Reynolds, chief veterinarian for Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the bird was likely infected while it was quarantined with birds from Taiwan that subsequently died.

However, Taiwan said Tuesday that a thorough inspection of the farm that shipped the birds found no trace of the disease.

"Taiwan has not been infected with bird flu," said Chiang Shien-tsong, who is in charge of disease control at the Cabinet-level Agriculture Council. "We will lodge a serious protest to Britain for the irresponsible allegation."

The Taiwanese farm exported 185 birds in September after being issued an official certificate attesting they were free from viruses, including the H5N1 bird flu strain that has devastated poultry stocks and killed over 60 people in Asia over the past two years.

Britain's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said tests conducted on the dead Taiwanese birds were inconclusive, the AP reports.


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