Japan burns 12,000 chickens following bird flu outbreak

TOKYO: Local authorities in southwestern Japan began incinerating 12,000 dead chickens on a farm Monday as part of efforts to stop the spread of a recent bird flu outbreak.

"We will proceed by giving the utmost care to safety so as not to cause any fear to residents in the area," Kazuo Kuroiwa, an agriculture official of Miyazaki prefecture, said of the work which was expected to take until early Tuesday.

On Saturday, the government confirmed the outbreak after 3,900 chickens were found dead at the farm in the prefecture, some 900 kilometers (558 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Agricultural officials of the prefecture culled the remaining 8,100 chickens at the farm on Sunday, and all 12,000 birds there will be incinerated.

It was still not clear if the outbreak involved the H5N1 strain, which is potentially deadly to humans.

Another prefectural official, Hisanori Ogura, said earlier Monday, "So far, we have not received any reports of a spread of the outbreak. Also, there has been no panic among local residents."
The officials put the farm under a massive sanitation program while ordering 11 other poultry farms within a 10-kilometer (six-mile) radius not to move chickens and eggs.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government banned all poultry imports from Japan. Hong Kong, which was the scene of the world's first reported major bird flu outbreak among humans in 1997, imported some 1,800 tonnes of frozen poultry products from Japan from January to September last year.

Japan confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in January 2004. Since then, the nation has seen several more outbreaks of the H5N1 strain, as well as the less serious H5N2 virus.

Health experts have warned that four bird flu deaths in Indonesia and a spate of new poultry outbreaks in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia were signs the virus could make resurgence this northern winter.

Bird flu has killed more than 150 people worldwide since late 2003. There are fears it could mutate and trigger a deadly, global pandemic. (thenews.com.pk)


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