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Japan to fight flu by killing over 300,000 birds

Japanese authorities have started culling thousands of chickens and ducks after detecting a highly contagious strain of bird flu. The disease had already hit several European countries, including Germany.

Some 310,000 chickens and 16,500 ducks are set to be killed off in north Japan, authorities said on Tuesday.

The officials in the Niigata prefecture said they had found 40 chickens dead at a farm in the village of Sekikawa, prompting them to destroy all the birds at the farm. Also, several ducks in the Aomori prefecture tested positive for a H5 bird strain.

In both locations, the strain of the virus was highly pathogenic, according to Japanese media. Japanese poultry farms had been free of avian influenza for two years.

The virus is also spreading through Europe, with France announcing they detected it in wild ducks on Monday. On Saturday, Dutch authorities killed about 190,000 ducks at six farms over an avian flu outbreak. Outbreaks have also been reported in Switzerland, Romania, and Germany in recent weeks.

Health authorities advise farmers from humid regions to keep their poultry indoors or apply safety nets to prevent contact with wild birds, that can carry the virus and transmit it through feathers or feces. The World Organization for Animal Health believes that more outbreaks are likely in Europe as wild birds migrate to the south, according to the Reuters news agency.

France, the largest poultry producer in Europe, is still reeling for a severe bird flu outbreak earlier this year.

dj/rc (dpa, Reuters)

 

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