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Poultry cull starts at Japan farm hit by bird flu outbreak

Poultry cull starts at Japan farm hit by bird flu outbreak

Officials began culling tens of thousands of chickens at a southern Japan poultry farm Friday, following a new bird flu outbreak this week.
It was not yet clear whether it was the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain that killed 3,000 chickens at the farm in Hyuga, in Japan's southern Miyazaki prefecture (state), earlier this week.
A state-owned laboratory near Tokyo was analyzing dead chickens, and results were expected over the next few days.
About 150 officials from the prefectural government and livestock-related organizations began culling about 49,000 chickens at the Hyuga farm and packing the dead birds in bags, said official Hisao Takase.
In another Miyazaki town earlier this month, 4,000 chickens died from the H5N1 strain.
The H5N1 virus has ravaged poultry stocks in Asia since 2003 and has killed at least 163 people around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
One human H5N1 infection has been confirmed in Japan, but no reported human deaths.
Bird flu remains hard for humans to catch, but international experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily among humans and potentially kill millions around the world.
Miyazaki, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) southwest of Tokyo, is Japan's main chicken-producing region.