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The Hyogo Prefectural Government said Saturday that preliminary tests show that live chickens shipped from a Kyoto Prefecture farm where an outbreak of avian influenza is suspected do have the virus.

It is the first time that tests have returned positive for chickens that had been moved to another place from where the disease is believed to have occurred.

The chickens were among a batch shipped to a slaughterhouse in the town of Yachiyo, Hyogo Prefecture, from the Asada Nosan Funai Nojo farm in the town of Tanba in the neighboring prefecture, where some 28,000 chickens had died during the past week, according to the Hyogo Prefectural Government.

The prefectural government immediately set up a task force to handle the matter and requested that poultry farmers and other farmers within a 30-km radius of the Yachiyo slaughterhouse refrain from shipping chickens and eggs.

Shipments of meat processed at the slaughterhouse have already been suspended and the products have not reached consumers, local government officials said.

According to the prefectural government, a local livestock office carried out the preliminary tests earlier Saturday on five of the chickens that arrived at the slaughterhouse and found all five positive for the virus.

Initially, all 9,900 live chickens from the Kyoto farm were believed to have been slaughtered for processed meat. But later some of them were found to be still alive, the officials said.

It was also learned Saturday that another 39,000 birds had died at the Kyoto farm since the previous day, bringing the total number of chickens that have died on the premises to roughly 67,000 since Feb. 20.

Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada said he plans to instruct the farm, which had kept about 200,000 birds, to voluntarily dispose of all of its remaining chickens.

The Kyoto Prefectural Government announced the suspected bird flu outbreak on Friday, with officials saying the Tanba farm shipped around 15,000 live chickens to slaughterhouses in nearby prefectures on Wednesday and Thursday while thousands of chickens were dying.

Kyoto Prefectural Police have questioned Hideaki Asada, president of the Tanba farm, over why he failed to report the deaths of thousands of chickens every day, police officials said on Saturday.

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