Japan to cull 10 mln chickens to stop avian influenza spread

The number of outbreaks this season has reached 57
calendar icon 10 January 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Japan plans to cull more than 10 million chickens because of the spread of avian influenza, a record for the peak infection season that runs from October to May, Reuters reported, citing an agriculture ministry official on Tuesday.

With the latest avian influenza case detected at a poultry farm in Miyazaki in southwestern Japan on Tuesday, the total number of chickens to be culled in the 2022 season reached 10.08 million, exceeding the 9.87 million in the November 2020 to March 2021 season.

The number of outbreaks has reached 57, outpacing the 2020 season's record 52 and the number of prefectures affected rose to 23 from 2020's 18, which was the highest ever, said the ministry official, who oversees animal health.

"Avian flu is spreading around the world, including Europe and the United States, and the amount of virus that comes to Japan with migratory birds has been high this season," the official said.

On Monday, a public holiday in Japan, Agriculture Minister Tetsuro Nomura issued a statement regarding the high number of culled birds that called on livestock farmers to be on "the utmost alert" and implement epidemic measures to prevent the outbreak and the spread of the disease.

"Outbreaks in wild birds have been confirmed more frequently than usual, and experts have warned that the concentration of the virus in the environment is very high nationwide," he said.

In December, Japan's government issued a warning, instructing poultry farmers in the affected areas to carry out disinfection with slaked lime which was distributed by the government.

A record number of chickens, turkeys and other birds have died in outbreaks in the United States and Europe, and the virus is spreading in South America, Africa, and Asia.

The virus can be transmitted to humans in contact with poultry, but experts say the health risk to humans is low.

Japan's first outbreak for this season was detected in late October and the season is expected to continue through around May, the ministry official said.

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