Miyazaki starts 410,000-chicken containment cull

MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) The Miyazaki Prefectural Government stepped up its latest bird flu fight Monday after infections were confirmed at a second poultry farm, triggering the culling of about 410,000 chickens in the town of Shintomi late the previous day.

To prevent the highly pathogenic avian flu from spreading further, it asked the Ground Self-Defense Force for disaster relief assistance and received a team of 170 troops from a camp based in the prefecture to help bury the carcasses and perform other work Tuesday.

While it is expected to take several days to kill all the birds and bury them, about 10,000 chickens already culled at a nearby farm in the prefectural capital Miyazaki, where the flu first broke out, are slated to be burned by Monday evening.

Shortly past 7 a.m., around 270 prefectural employees and related experts boarded six buses to visit the two farms to cull chickens and dispose of their waste.

Kenko Matsuki, a parliamentary secretary for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, also visited an emergency headquarters set up in Shintomi and inspected areas around the farm there.

“The farm is still new so I’m disappointed and shocked. The most important thing is to cull the chickens as soon as possible,” Matsuki said after the inspection.

The prefecture — the No. 2 poultry producer after Kagoshima as of 2009 — banned farms within 10 km of the two infected farms from moving about 4 million chickens plus eggs late Sunday.

Five chickens were confirmed infected with a highly pathogenic bird flu virus late Sunday after 20 chickens were found dead that morning at the Shintomi farm, a day after six chickens at the other farm in the prefectural capital, only about 8.5 km away, were confirmed as having bird flu.

The outbreaks in Miyazaki follow one in November at a poultry farm in Shimane Prefecture and come amid a spread of bird flu among wild birds across Japan.

The infections are a menace to the local livestock industry, which was hit by bird flu in 2007 and a foot-and-mouth epidemic last year that led to the slaughter of about 290,000 cows and pigs.