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Japan’s bird flu outbreak spreads to fifth prefecture

Japan’s agriculture ministry confirmed that the ongoing bird flu outbreak has spread to a fifth prefecture.

8 December 2020, at 7:30am

Reuters reports that the recent wave of infections is Japan’s worst outbreak of avian influenza in more than four years.

Avian influenza was discovered at two egg-producing farms in Mihara city, in southwestern Japan's Hiroshima prefecture, the ministry said on its website. Humans cannot contract bird flu from eating poultry or eggs, the ministry said.

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

Just over 130,000 chickens at two farms in Mihara city will be slaughtered and buried, while exports in a 3km (1.8 mile) radius around the farm will be restricted.

The new action means nearly 2 million chickens will have been culled since the latest outbreak began. Japan had a broiler chicken population amounting to 138 million head last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Japan's last outbreak of bird flu was in January 2018 in Kagawa prefecture, when 91,000 chickens were culled.

The last big outbreak was between November 2016 and March 2017, when a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu.

Bird flu is being reported around the world, with South Korea last week confirming another case in an outbreak that has led to the culling of around 400,000 chickens and ducks.

In Europe, the poultry industry is on alert as a highly contagious bird flu, deadly to animals, is spreading rapidly on the continent.

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