• Kyodo

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Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada asked the farm ministry Thursday to send veterinarians and epidemic experts to prevent a further spread of bird flu in the prefecture, where troops have also been deployed to contain the disease.

He also asked the national government to speed up efforts to identify the infection source.

“Every possibility needs to be crossed out” in the search for the cause of the flu, Yamada said.

As of Thursday, 27 chickens had died at the Takada farm in Tanba, Kyoto Prefecture, the same town where the Asada Nosan Funai Farm suffered a massive outbreak of avian flu. The Takada farm is run by a family of four. The corporate-run Funai farm is one of Kyoto’s largest.

The prefecture ordered the Takada farm to dispose of all 15,000 of its chickens. It also closed a park near the farm.

The Ground Self-Defense Force also sent 117 soldiers to the prefecture Thursday to help contain the outbreak.

The 3rd Division of the GSDF, headquartered in Itami, Hyogo Prefecture, and the Kyoto government agreed on the dispatch Thursday morning.

The 117 troops, who specialize in epidemic prevention measures, will help dispose of chickens and disinfect the two farms, GSDF officials said.

Under the Self-Defense Forces Law, governors can ask the Defense Agency chief and regional GSDF bodies to dispatch troops when there is a need to protect human life and property in a disaster.

Kyoto has mobilized more than 200 prefectural officials each day to disinfect the Funai farm. But due to the large number of chickens affected by the flu, Gov. Yamada called on the regional GSDF unit Monday to provide assistance with digging burial ditches in a forest nearby.

Chickens at the farm started dying in large numbers on Feb. 20. The firm had 250,000 chickens before the outbreak, which authorities only discovered after receiving an anonymous tip that thousands of chickens at the farm had died over a week’s time. The farm had been required by law to notify officials of the outbreak.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a regular news conference Thursday that a new law may be needed to prevent such an outbreak.

“We need to study whether the current legal framework is sufficient,” Fukuda said.

Separately, agriculture minister Yoshiyuki Kamei said the government is considering pursuing criminal charges against the operator of the Funai farm.

“We will examine the background of the case with the Kyoto Prefectural Government and judge whether to file a complaint,” Kamei told the House of Representatives Budget Committee.

Bird flu was detected at a farm in Yamaguchi Prefecture in January in Japan’s first case in 79 years. A total of 34,000 chickens died of the disease or were killed. A second outbreak killed seven chickens kept as pets at a home in Oita Prefecture.

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