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Self-Defense Forces troops were mobilized Monday to help fight an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
Some 200 personnel from the Ground SDF’s eighth division based in the city of Kumamoto helped cull chickens and bury them underground at the request of the prefectural government.
The move came after the H5 subtype virus was detected Sunday in broilers that died at the farm in the town of Taragi, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country in three years.
A total of about 112,000 chickens are slated to be culled at the farm as well as another farm in the Kumamoto prefecture village of Sagara run by the same farmer.
The prefectural government on Sunday conducted an investigation into approximately 230 poultry farms in the prefecture breeding more than 100 chickens in total. As a result, no problem was found at them except for the one in question, officials said Monday.
A pair of tufted ducks found dead earlier this month in a water reservoir in Fukushima Prefecture have been confirmed to have had a highly virulent type of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, the prefectural government said Wednesday.
The virus found in the northeastern prefecture is quite similar to the highly lethal, highly pathogenic virus discovered in a wild duck in Hokkaido last October, according to an official at the Environment Ministry.
The ministry will raise the alert level and beef up surveillance within the 10-kilometer radius of the reservoir. The ministry and the prefectural government will also conduct on-site inspections of nearly 60 local poultry farms in four municipalities.
The Shimane prefectural government began destroying about 23,000 chickens on Tuesday at a poultry farm in the prefecture suspected of having Japan’s first bird flu case since early last year.
Facing a possible outbreak of avian flu in western Japan, Prime Minister Naoto Kan vowed in Tokyo to contain the spread of the virus and ordered officials to do everything in their power for ‘‘domestic crisis management.’‘
The operation at the farm in the city of Yasugi is expected to take two to three days, the local government said. It is the first time that culling has begun before the type of avian flu virus was identified, according to the farm ministry.
Five chickens were found dead at the farm on Monday and they tested positive for bird flu in preliminary tests. They may have been infected with the highly virulent H5 strain of avian flu virus.
The governments of Shimane and neighboring Tottori prefectures conducted checks targeting all poultry farms on Tuesday, and the latter started disinfecting vehicles on main roads near the affected farm in the city, which borders Tottori.