• Jiji

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The Okayama Prefectural Government announced Friday an outbreak of bird flu believed to be highly pathogenic at a chicken farm in the city of Mimasaka in the prefecture.

All chickens at the farm, totaling about 640,000 heads, will be culled to stem the spread of the infection. The culling will be one of the largest in a single bird flu outbreak case in Japan this year.

It is the first time this year that the disease has been found at a chicken farm in Okayama, which became the ninth prefecture in Japan to report a farm outbreak of bird flu apparently of a highly pathogenic strain following the prefectures of Kagawa, Fukuoka, Hyogo, Miyazaki, Nara, Hiroshima, Oita and Wakayama.

After receiving a report of suspected bird flu infection at the farm in Mimasaka on Thursday, the Okayama government conducted simple tests and found positive cases there. Genetic tests found Friday morning that the bird flu is very likely to be highly pathogenic.

The prefectural government requested the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops for help culling the chickens. The culling work has started.

Farms within a 10-kilometer radius from the affected farm were asked not to move their chickens or eggs outside the zone.

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