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Large-scale culling of 640,000 chickens begins in west Japan after bird flu outbreak

The Okayama Prefectural Government headquarters (Mainichi/Ryohei Masukawa)

OKAYAMA -- H5 avian flu virus that is suspected to be highly pathogenic was detected in a dead chicken at a poultry farm in the city of Mimasaka in the western Japan prefecture of Okayama, the prefectural government announced on Dec. 11.

    The Okayama Prefectural Government has asked the Self-Defense Forces to dispatch personnel for disaster relief work, and commenced the culling of some 640,000 chickens kept at the farm. The number is among the largest scale of chickens to be culled at one poultry farm in Japan, said the prefectural government. Okayama is the ninth prefecture where an outbreak of bird flu has been confirmed, and the new outbreak is the third case to be recorded at a poultry farm within the prefecture, following its previous case in January 2015.

    According to the prefectural government, it conducted an on-site inspection after the poultry farm contacted prefectural authorities around 12:45 p.m. on Dec. 10, saying, "67 chickens are dead, huddled up together in the same coop." Seven birds were confirmed to have contracted the virus via a simple test on 13 chickens among the 67, and virus infection was confirmed through genetic testing around dawn on Dec. 11. The detected virus is suspected to be from a strain that has a high death rate. All chickens at the poultry farm, which contains seven coops, will be culled.

    The prefectural government has issued movement restrictions forbidding poultry farms within a 3-kilometer radius of the infection site from transporting chickens or eggs outside their facilities, and is also restricting poultry farms within a 10-kilometer radius from taking their chickens and eggs outside that sphere.

    (Japanese original by Hanami Matsumuro, Sayuri Toda and Ryohei Masukawa, Okayama Bureau)

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