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Virus in chicken deaths at western Japan farm identified as virulent type of bird flu

Virus in chicken deaths at western Japan farm identified as virulent type of bird flu

Japanese authorities determined that the virulent H5 family of bird flu virus has killed dozens of chickens at a western Japanese farm, the latest in a string of outbreaks of the disease in the country's poultry stocks, officials said Monday.
It was still unclear whether the virus was the deadly H5N1 type that is also dangerous to humans, an Agriculture Ministry official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.
The latest outbreak occurred at a farm in Takahashi, in western Okayama prefecture (state), where at least 30 chickens died last week.
Officials have begun sterilizing the farm, and neighboring farms in the 10 kilometer (6-mile) radius are now barred from shipping chickens and eggs, the ministry official said. Local officials plan to start culling all 12,000 birds at the farm as early as Tuesday.
Takahashi is about 560 kilometers (350 miles) west of Tokyo.
The Agriculture Ministry was to hold a bird flu taskforce meeting later Monday.
Thousands of chickens were killed at poultry farms in southern Miyazaki following two outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu in separate towns earlier this month.
So far, no pathogenic links have been found in the three outbreaks, but experts are continuing further investigation, the agriculture official said.
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 : 2021-03-06 13:57 GMT+08:00