JAPAN - An official at the animal health department has warned that avian influenza could occur anywhere in the country as the result of transmission by wild birds and there is a reminder to travellers of the ban on importing poultry products from affected countries.
The agriculture is on high alert for bird flu amid multiple outbreaks around the world in 2014, reports Japan Times.
Some 245 avian influenza cases have been confirmed in South Korea so far this year, and the same strain of the virus has spread in Europe, leading an official of the ministry to express concern about “worldwide simultaneous, multiple outbreaks.”
Ahead of the surge in travelers heading overseas for the year-end and New Year holidays, the ministry is calling on people to take precautions.
It said: “We do not want people to bring the meat of livestock into the country from abroad and to report if they touched animals overseas,” it said.
South Korea has seen outbreaks of the highly pathogenic H5N8 subtype bird flu virus throughout the year. Some 14.5 million ducks and chickens have been slaughtered, mainly in southwestern areas of the country.
China, meanwhile had reported 57 bird flu cases as of the end of October and exterminated about 5.3 million birds. In locations including Jiangsu Province near Shanghai, there were cases where bird flu was transmitted to humans.
In November, cases of highly pathogenic flu among turkeys and ducks were reported in Germany, Britain and the Netherlands. Since the virus was confirmed as the same type as that in South Korea, experts suspect it may have spread from Asia.
In April, an outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu occurred in Japan for the first time in three years, at a chicken firm in Kumamoto prefecture, and 112,000 birds were culled. The outbreak was contained in May.
However, the H5N8 subtype virus was subsequently detected in the droppings of migrant birds in Shimane, Tottori and Chiba prefectures in November. In Izumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, known as a wintering place for cranes, the same virus was discovered in cranes and their nests.
The farm ministry, via prefectural governments, has urged poultry farmers to improve hygiene control and step up measures to prevent wild birds from entering their farms.
Japan Times reports an official of the ministry’s animal health division saying: “I won’t be surprised if a bird flu outbreak occurs anywhere” in the country.
You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.
Top image via Shutterstock