Bird flu prompts quail cull in Aichi

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Aichi Prefecture has begun culling some 260,000 quails at a farm in the city of Toyohashi following confirmation of an outbreak of H7 bird flu virus, according to prefectural officials.

The quails being culled are among 320,000 bred and raised at the farm. The mass kill was ordered after two quails tested positive in a recent virus detection test during regularly scheduled sampling by prefectural government officials.

The cull, started Saturday, was expected to be completed by Monday. The dead birds will be buried on land owned by the farm.

The virus was identified Sunday as a weak-virulent H7N6 subtype. The H7 strain had not been detected in Japan since 1925.

Following the confirmation Friday that bird flu was involved, the prefectural government began inspections at surrounding farms and conducted tests on quails and chickens bred at farms within a 5-km radius of the infection area.

Aichi Gov. Masaaki Kanda visited the district Saturday and ordered local authorities to strengthen countermeasures to prevent an epidemic.

The prefecture requested Friday that 23 farms located within 5 km of the infection site refrain from shipping quails, other poultry and their eggs.

The farm is located in one of the country’s leading production centers for quail eggs.