Japan's farm minister confirms Avian flu outbreak in western Japan
Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Kotaro Nogami informed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of the outbreak on Thursday morning, local media reported.
Suga was quoted as instructing his Cabinet members to work closely together in taking swift preventive measures and sharing information to combat the virus.
The Japanese leader also asked poultry farmers nationwide to be on the alert for other possible outbreaks.
"The government will work as one and take full-blown measures to prevent the spread of infection," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a Cabinet meeting with regard to the outbreak.
After briefing the prime minister on the outbreak, reporters heard from Nogami that measures would be taken to eradicate the outbreak, including culling the affected chickens.
The culling of hundreds of thousands of chickens began thereafter at a poultry farm in Mitoyo City in Kagawa Prefecture, with Kagawa Governor Keizo Hamada indicting Thursday that around 330,000 chickens at the farm to prevent the highly pathogenic H5 strain of the virus, the first bird flu outbreak in Japan since one in the same prefecture in January 2018, from spreading.
To help with the mass culling operation and prevention of the avian flu from spreading further, Hamada said he also plans to enlist the help of Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF).
The mass culling and burial of the affected birds is expected to take around 10 days, prefectural official said.
The outbreak was confirmed after the farm in Mitoyo City reported almost 4,000 chickens had died between Sunday and Wednesday.
Examinations following the death of the birds confirmed that the H5 strain of bird flu was the cause.
The prefecture has since banned the transport of chickens and eggs within a three-kilometer radius of the farm.
Samples taken randomly from two million chickens at 26 poultry farms in the area will be tested for the virus, according to local media accounts.
Shipments from the area within a 10 km radius of the farm are also being restricted, officials said. ■