Japan began culling some 112,000 chickens in Kumamoto Prefecture after authorities confirmed two cases of bird flu at a farm on the island of Kyushu.
Local government officials announced the day of the slaughter that a strain of the highly pathogenic H5 virus was found in two chickens after a genetic testing on fowl raised at a poultry farm in Taragi on the southern island of Kyushu.
Authorities said they will destroy about 112,000 chickens in two farms in the prefecture, including the farm in Taragi, where more than 1,000 birds have died. Another 56,000 chickens will be killed at a nearby farm in Sagara, which is owned by the same operator as the infected farm.
The prefectural government has already restricted shipments of almost 400,000 chickens and eggs from farms within a 10-kilometer radius of the affected farm.
Public health workers donning biohazard suits were sanitizing areas around the outbreak zone while others tested birds at nearby farms for signs of infection. Roadblocks have already been set up to disinfect cars that have travelled through affected areas.
“We will go all out to deal with the incident promptly and unfailingly,” Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima said.
The discovery marks the first bird flu case in Japan since 2011 when it was detected in Chiba Prefecture, north Tokyo, leading to the slaughter of 1.83 million chickens in 24 farms across 9 prefectures, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
This is the first time avian flu has been detected in Kumamoto. Koichi Otsuki, chief of the Avian Influenza Research Center of Kyoto Sangyo University, said the outbreak could spread to other parts of Japan through migratory birds that normally cross the Japanese archipelago every year.
“There has been an avian flu epidemic in South Korea from about January that has not yet ended. There is the possibility the virus was transported by migratory birds from the Korean Peninsula or China,” said Otsuki.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held a crisis meeting with ministers to discuss the outbreak.
“The government will take thorough measures to prevent wider infections,” Suga said, according to AFP.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: Neal Foley/Flickr