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Bird flu outbreak in Japan

April 13, 2014

Japan has ordered the killing of more than 100,000 chickens after officials confirmed bird flu infections at a poultry farm in the south. It is the first confirmed outbreak in the country since 2011.

Image: Reuters

DNA tests confirmed the H5 strain of the bird flu virus at a farm in Japan's southern prefecture of Kumamoto after its owner reported on Saturday more than 1,000 sudden deaths among his poultry, the Agriculture Ministry announced in a statement Sunday.

Officials ordered the killing of a total of 112,000 birds from the infected farm and another one run by the same owner.

"The government will take thorough measures to prevent wider infections," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a meeting of selected officials, including Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, to discuss the outbreak.

In what is the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in Japan in three years, authorities have begun sanitizing areas around the two farms. More birds are being tested on farms in the vicinity and in transport on vehicles traveling on major roads around the affected farms.

The disease typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact. However, experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

hc/mkg (Reuters, AFP)