A highly contagious avian flu outbreak has been confirmed at poultry farms in Niigata and Aomori prefectures, forcing local governments to cull more than 300,000 chickens and ducks on Tuesday.
The cases are the first of a highly pathogenic H5 strain of the virus in domestic poultry since January 2015 when it was detected in Okayama and Saga prefectures.
South Korea experienced an outbreak of bird flu earlier this month, possibly transmitted by migratory birds. Experts warned that the outbreak could spread nationwide as infected wild birds have been found in many parts of the country.
Tests have confirmed the presence of the H5 strain at the poultry farm in the village of Sekikawa, Niigata Prefecture, while Aomori Prefecture is trying to confirm whether the virus at a local duck farm is also H5.
A local official found about 40 dead chickens at the Niigata farm Monday. Five of the birds tested positive. The Niigata Prefectural Government began culling the estimated 310,000 chickens at the farm.
In Aomori, where 10 ducks were found dead Monday, the prefectural government is culling about 16,500 birds at a farm where ducks tested positive for the H5 bird flu strain in preliminary testing.
The samples will undergo further analysis as officials suspect the virus is likely to be highly pathogenic.
Both the Niigata and Aomori prefectural governments have restricted the movement of poultry and eggs in an area within 3 km of the farms in question. The Niigata government requested the deployment of Self-Defense Force personnel to assist with the culling operation.
Source: Japan Times Image: ANN