Photo in the News: Taiwan Holds Bird Flu Drill

Photo: Government worker participating in a drill
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November 4, 2005—You can never be too prepared. On October 19 the Taiwanese government held a massive drill in Taipei to boost the nation's readiness for a possible outbreak of avian influenza.

Government workers wearing protective gear used props—like the fake medical waste disposal vehicle pictured above—to rehearse the nation's emergency response plan.

The next day Taiwanese officials had a chance to put their practiced skills to the test when authorities announced the first case of bird flu found in the island nation in two years. About a thousand birds in a container smuggled from China tested positive for the H5N1 virus. The strain of bird flu can transmit to humans and has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 1997.

Officials say that all the infected birds from the shipment were destroyed, and they believe it is unlikely the virus could have spread to local fowl.

"[The infected birds] were found on the boat and hadn't been offloaded," Chiang Hsien-Choung, section chief of the Council of Agriculture's animal and health inspection department, told Reuters. "They didn't enter the country's borders."

—Victoria Gilman

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