TOKYO — Authorities and chicken farmers in Kagawa Prefecture finished culling roughly 92,000 chickens Friday night after a bird flu outbreak was confirmed on a poultry farm in the western Japan prefecture the previous day.
To prevent further infections, the culling operation began late Thursday night at the poultry farm in Sanuki, where an outbreak of the H5 strain of bird flu — a highly contagious and especially deadly virus for poultry — was confirmed, and at several nearby farms.
Given cold weather, darkness and the muddy ground, the operation took longer than planned to complete, with more than 750 people, including Self-Defense Forces personnel and Kagawa prefectural government officials, taking turns to capture and cull the birds.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said a gene analysis determined the outbreak was that of the H5N6 avian influenza strain, the same type detected from a dead wild bird found in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, also in western Japan, this winter. The outbreak in Kagawa is the first bird flu case affecting livestock in Japan this season.
The government held a ministerial meeting at the prime minister’s office to discuss how to deal with the outbreak while a team of epidemiologic experts and farm ministry officials visited the infected farm in Sanuki to find the cause of the outbreak.
“An initial action is crucially important. We are going to support the prefecture at full tilt,” senior vice farm minister Yosuke Isozaki told reporters after meeting with Kagawa Gov. Keizo Hamada at the prefectural government office.
With the help of experts, a local office of the Environment Ministry on Friday began inspecting the area within a radius of 10 kilometers from the infected farm to determine what kind of migrant birds fly over the area and whether there have been massive deaths of wild birds.
The Kagawa prefectural government banned the movement of poultry and eggs within a radius of 3 kilometers of the infected site, which includes eight other farms. Farms within a 10-km radius were banned from transporting birds and eggs out of the area.
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