YAMAGUCHI – An outbreak of highly pathogenic bird influenza has been confirmed in Yamaguchi Prefecture, officials said Tuesday.
Prefectural officials started work to slaughter some 37,000 chickens at a farm in Nagato, about 275 km north of the city of Miyazaki, where another outbreak has occurred.
The Yamaguchi Prefectural Government banned chickens and other domestic poultry, whether dead or alive, within a 3-km radius of the Nagato farm from being moved out of the area and dead poultry within 10 km from being shipped outside.
The outbreak followed two recently confirmed cases of highly pathogenic bird flu in Miyazaki Prefecture.
According to the Yamaguchi government, 21 chickens died at the Nagato farm on Sunday and Monday.
The dead chickens tested positive for influenza in basic tests conducted Monday. The prefectural government announced early Tuesday that a genetic test confirmed the virus was present.
In Miyazaki, the prefectural government announced the detection of the virus on a farm in the city of Miyazaki late Sunday night and culled all 42,000 birds there, officials said Monday.
The first case was confirmed Dec. 16 in the city of Nobeoka, also in Miyazaki Prefecture, which is known as the country’s top producer of broiler chickens.
All three cases involve the H5 variety of the virus, according to officials.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday the central government will ramp up measures against bird flu.
“We will continue to take all necessary measures if any further outbreaks are confirmed,” he said at a gathering of ministers in charge of affairs related to the government’s response to bird flu outbreaks.
The ministers confirmed close cooperation and agreed to enhance information collection and disease control measures.
At a news conference afterward, agriculture minister Koya Nishikawa said, “I am very concerned that the outbreaks occurred earlier than usual.”
He noted that bird flu cases usually peak between January and mid-February in Japan.
The outbreaks are unlikely to affect widespread distribution of chicken or eggs in the country anytime soon, but all possible measures should be taken, he said, requesting poultry farmers to be on their guard.
In the case in the city of Miyazaki, the farm reported to the prefecture at about 11:30 a.m. Sunday that increasing numbers of chickens were dying. Chickens later tested positive in a genetic test for bird flu.
The Miyazaki government has asked five other chicken farms located within 3 km of the affected farm to refrain from shipping any of their approximately 145,000 chickens.
It also asked farms within 10 km not to take any dead chickens out of the 10-km radius zone. A total of 55 chicken farms are located within the 10-km radius, excluding the five in the 3-km zone.
The prefectural government called on poultry farmers during an emergency meeting Monday morning to take thorough disease control measures, but one of the participants said the situation is distressing because the poultry farm in question “got infected even though it was taking proper protective measures.”
Yamaguchi Prefecture is following similar procedures, culling around 37,000 birds and placing bans on the movement and shipment of chickens in the area.
In January 2004, the prefecture reported chickens at a farm in what is now the city of Yamaguchi were infected with a highly pathogenic strain of bird flu, the first avian flu case in Japan in nearly 80 years. In that outbreak, about 34,000 birds were culled.