• Kyodo

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The Kyoto Prefectural Government disinfected a poultry farm Saturday in Tamba after an outbreak of bird flu killed thousands of chickens at the farm.

In response to an anonymous tip, the prefectural government discovered Friday that about 28,000 chickens raised on the Asada Nosan Funai Nojo farm had died during the previous week, and preliminary tests found that three of the dead birds and two live ones had avian influenza virus.

The Kyoto government later Saturday confirmed that the influenza virus was to blame for the chickens’ deaths.

It said samples have been sent to the National Institute of Animal Health in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, to see if the virus is highly contagious.

The prefectural government decided to disinfect the farm without waiting for final confirmation to prevent the bird flu infection from spreading, the officials said. It disinfected 10 poultry houses on the farm as well as vehicles used to transport feed.

About 30 prefectural government officials and local firefighters, clad in protective equipment, sprayed disinfectant around the buildings and surrounding areas.

It is not yet known if the work will continue into Sunday.

Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada visited the farm to observe the work and inspect the poultry houses.

After the 30-minute visit, Yamada told reporters, “There is a mixture of dead and live chickens in the houses. It’s a terrible condition, beyond words.”

The governor said the prefectural government will set up a third-party panel of experts as early as Monday to determine how the infection struck the farm.

The five birds were among about 200,000 chickens being raised on the farm. The prefectural government will ask the farm to kill all 200,000 chickens to prevent the disease from spreading, Yamada later told a news conference.

“The influenza virus is multiplying within the live chickens. We have to move quickly to deal with the matter,” he said.

Kyoto is the third Japanese prefecture to have an outbreak of bird flu, after Yamaguchi and Oita prefectures.

Although the prefectural government says eating meat or eggs from infected birds will not harm humans, it has requested that the farm recall all poultry products shipped so far.

Center protects its ibis

NIIGATA (Kyodo) Japan’s only conservation center for crested ibis on Saturday closed a path from where visitors could see the birds, following an outbreak of bird flu in Kyoto Prefecture on Friday.

Due to fears that all the ibis in Japan could be wiped out if the birds at the center are infected, visitors to the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center, on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture, will only be able to view the birds on a TV monitor in the center’s exhibition hall.

The center has already banned visitors from entering a management building close to the bird cages, and even staff have to disinfect their shoes before entering.

Japan no longer has any crested ibis born in the wild, after the last one died Oct. 10 at the center. The center currently has 39 ibis — three from China and a number of offspring from an artificial breeding program.

In January, avian influenza broke out at a chicken farm in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan’s first case in 79 years.

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