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Published December 01, 2010, 01:42 PM

Ministry confirms bird flu of highly virulent H5 strain in Japan

TOKYO — Japan’s farm ministry confirmed Wednesday that the chickens suspected of having avian flu at a farm in Shimane Prefecture had been infected with the highly virulent H5 strain of avian flu virus.

TOKYO — Japan’s farm ministry confirmed Wednesday that the chickens suspected of having avian flu at a farm in Shimane Prefecture had been infected with the highly virulent H5 strain of avian flu virus.

It represents the first infection since February 2009 when a quail farm in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture, was found to be infected by another strain of avian flu virus.

The prefectural government in western Japan said it has found at least two breaks in a metallic bird net at the poultry farm in the city of Yasugi which could allow wild birds to enter the farm, although it had earlier announced there were no abnormalities in the net.

The local government also said earlier in the day that it found several holes in a plastic sheet covering the poultry house, but that the net was inside of the sheet and birds should have not been able to get into the house, denying any relation between the holes and the possible infection.

The prefectural government suspects that the virus was brought by a wild bird and aims to identify the infection route in cooperation with researchers from the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

Shimane also continued Wednesday to kill the chickens at the farm and is aiming to complete the culling of some 23,000 birds by the end of the day.

The culling began Tuesday, a day after five chickens were found dead at the farm and tested positive for bird flu in preliminary tests, and about 3,300 were destroyed by Tuesday evening.

It is the first time that culling has started before the type of avian flu virus has been identified, according to the ministry.

Neither Shimane nor neighboring Tottori Prefecture found any other chickens suspected of having bird flu.

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