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Bird flu blamed for deaths of 31 birds in western Japan

Bird flu blamed for deaths of 31 birds in western Japan

Preliminary tests show bird flu killed 31 chickens at a farm in western Japan, a local government official said Sunday, the latest in a string of recent outbreaks among the country's poultry stocks.
Authorities expect to have definitive lab results showing whether the virus was the H5N1 strain that is harmful to humans after midday Monday, said state official Kohei Kurose.
Officials have begun sterilizing the farm in Takahashi, western Okayama prefecture (state), and neighboring farms have been asked to refrain from moving their chickens, he said.
All 12,000 birds at the farm will be slaughtered if the final tests come back positive, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement.
Takahashi is about 560 kilometers (350 miles) west of Tokyo.
Meanwhile, authorities continued to slaughter chickens at a poultry farm in southern Japan where the H5N1 virus killed 3,000 chickens earlier this week.
About 40,000 of the remaining 49,000 birds at the farm in Hyuga in Miyazaki prefecture, Japan's main chicken-producing region, had been slaughtered by Sunday, Miyazaki official Hisanori Ogura said.
Another 50,000 chickens at a neighboring farm will also be killed as a precaution, Ogura said.
Earlier this month, some 4,000 chickens died from H5N1 in another town in Miyazaki, about 900 kilometers (560 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
The H5N1 virus has spurred the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia since late 2003, and caused the deaths of at least 163 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Japan has confirmed only one human H5N1 infection, and no human deaths.
The bird flu virus remains hard for humans to catch, but international experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily among humans and possibly kill millions around the world.


Updated : 2020-12-02 11:01 GMT+08:00