MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Bird flu appeared to hit another farm Sunday in Miyazaki Prefecture after five of six chickens tested from it yielded positive preliminary readings for a highly pathogenic virus, the prefectural government said.

The tests were held after 20 chickens were found dead at a farm in Shintomi, a town close to the city of Miyazaki, where six chickens at a separate farm were confirmed Saturday to have the H5 bird flu strain.

The farm in Shintomi, which raises about 66,000 chickens for eggs, would be the third poultry farm hit in the autumn and winter seasons following one that had to be sterilized in November in Shimane Prefecture, and the one in Miyazaki forced to cull all its roughly 10,000 chickens Saturday.

Miyazaki Prefecture was the nation’s No. 2 poultry producer after Kagoshima as of 2009.

The dead chickens discovered at the farm in Shintomi were found in the same poultry house as those it raises for eggs. The farm has around 460,000 chickens in 12 houses.

The prefecture is checking whether the 12 houses shared feed and waste-treatment facilities, and is discussing with the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry whether to cull all of the chickens if infections turn up in some of the houses.

The farm ministry meanwhile dispatched parliamentary secretary Kenko Matsuki to Miyazaki to monitor the situation and bolster its numbers in the emergency support team set up for the prefecture.

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