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Japan’s bird flu outbreak now covers 20 percent of its prefectures

Japan’s worst-ever avian influenza outbreak is spreading, and now affects almost 20 percent of the country’s 47 prefectures.

11 December 2020, at 7:19am

Reuters reports that animal health officials have ordered mass cullings after poultry deaths on two farms.

More than 370,000 head of poultry will be slaughtered and buried after avian influenza was discovered at two breeding farms in Mimasaka city in Okayama prefecture in southwestern Japan, the agriculture ministry said on Friday 11 December.

Highly pathogenic bird flu, a H5 subtype most likely brought by migrating birds from the Asia or Europe, has spread to nine of Japan's 47 prefectures, with nearly 3 million birds culled to date, a record number.

All farms in Japan have been ordered to disinfect facilities and check hygiene regimes, and ensure that nets to keep out wild birds are installed properly, agriculture ministry officials told Reuters this week.

The government is calling for extra vigilance because of the growing number of infections in Japan and in Europe, which is in the grip of an outbreak. Japan has suspended poultry imports from seven countries, including Germany.

Japan's worst outbreak since at least 2016 started last month in Kagawa prefecture on Shikoku island.

Japan had a broiler chicken population of 138 million head last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

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