Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Japan says bird flu outbreak is from deadly H5N1

TOKYO (Reuters) - An outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm in southwestern Japan was due to the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus, a farm ministry official said on Tuesday, confirming the first such case to hit Japan in three years.

There have been no reported cases of human infection or additional outbreaks in poultry in Japan. Almost 4,000 birds died from the disease at the affected farm, and authorities killed the remaining 8,000 chickens at the farm on Sunday.

Earlier tests had shown the chickens at the farm in Miyazaki prefecture were infected with an H5 subtype of the virus, but further testing was needed to tell if the virus had the N1 component that would make it the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain or the less lethal H5N2.

Authorities in Miyazaki said they had started to incinerate the dead birds, a process that was expected to take about 30 hours and end around midnight on Tuesday.

“It is progressing smoothly according to plan,” an official at the prefectural government said.

The ministry has restricted the movement of people and goods from farms located within a 10 km (6 mile) radius of the affected poultry farm.

The official said experts would visit 11 chicken farms within the restricted area to make detailed checks, including taking blood samples from birds.

There are 16 chicken farms within the area, but five of them do not currently have any chickens.

The local government is also checking other chicken farms in the prefecture to see if there are any signs of the disease.

Similar checks are being conducted nationwide by the Farm Ministry.

“The rule is to visit each farm whenever possible ... but when this cannot be done then the checks may be conducted by making phone calls,” a ministry official said.

An interim report on the checks could be released late on Tuesday, he said.

Japan has also put together a team of experts to try to trace the cause of the outbreak.

Source: Reuters

Posted by john T. on 01/16 at 08:14 AM
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