AICHI – The H7 bird flu virus has been detected at a quail farm in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, the prefectural government and the farm ministry said Friday.
As the infected quails have not died, the virus “may be of attenuated virulence,” the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the local government said, suggesting it is unlikely the infection will spread further.
Although it is rare for humans to catch the H7 virus, those who are in contact with the infected birds may show symptoms, such as in the respiratory system.
The prefectural government detected the virus in February in two quails at the farm, which raises about 300,000 of the birds, during a regular inspection of three quail farms in the prefecture, when 10 birds were tested.
The H7 virus had not been detected in Japan since 1925, according to the farm ministry.
“I always make sure I sterilize the farm and no wild birds get in, but I don’t know when and how the virus might affect my birds and I’m nervous,” said a 70-year-old farmer.
Aichi Gov. Masaaki Kanda said there is no danger of infection by eating the eggs or the meat of the quail. “I ask the citizens to remain calm,” he said.
But neighbors remain anxious. “Even though they say that infection among humans is unlikely, I’m scared and don’t want to go out,” said a woman who lives nearby.
The farm halted quail shipments Wednesday while authorities investigate the infection route, as well as sterilize the farm and kill the quails.
The farm is located in one of the country’s leading production centers for quail eggs. Transportation limits will be placed on 65 farms with more than 4.5 million quails and chickens, as well as their eggs and feed.
“Although I want (the government) to stop the infection from spreading, I want them to kill as few birds as possible,” said a 58-year-old farmer.
“(The discovery of the H7 virus) will cause a lot of trouble for farmers, so I want to treat this problem seriously,” said Motohiko Kondo, senior vice minister at the farm ministry.
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