Friday 20 November 2020

Avian Flu Concern Mounts: Almost 1 million chickens to be culled in the Japanese prefecture of Kagawa after two new outbreaks of bird flu on the island of Shikoku after 50,000 chickens were culled on the island earlier this month

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Almost 1 million chickens will be culled in the Japanese prefecture of Kagawa over two new outbreaks of bird flu on the island of Shikoku, Japanese media reported on Friday. On Thursday, media reported that a large number of birds had died at two farms in Kagawa. Further tests confirmed that they had been infected with bird flu, as Japanese authorities discovered a sixth and seventh outbreak in just the last several weeks.

According to the Kyodo news agency, 350,000 chickens would be culled at one farm and 495,000 at another. Not transmissible to humans, the highly pathogenic H5 flu was first detected at a bird farm near Kagawa's city of Mitoyo, where nearly 4,000 chickens died between November 1 and 4. On November 13, Russia imposed restrictions on poultry imports from Japan over the bird flu outbreaks.

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Earlier this month another bird flu case was confirmed at a poultry farm in Kagawa Prefecture, the prefectural government said on Sunday 8 November, marking the country's second outbreak of avian influenza at a farm this year. The virus is believed to be a highly pathogenic strain. About 48,000 chickens being raised at the farm in the city of Higashikagawa has been culled.

Meanwhile, Belgium has detected an outbreak of bird flu, leading authorities to order all poultry farmers and individual bird owners to keep the animals confined, the country's food safety agency AFSCA said earlier this month. Avian influenza has recently spread to western Europe after outbreaks in Russia and Kazakhstan this summer.

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In Holland, Belgiums neighbours, authorities found bird flu outbreaks at two poultry farms and the same strain - H5N8 - has also infected chickens and wild birds in north Germany. A farm in the eastern Dutch town of Puiflijk and another nearby have been told to cull 200,000 chickens.

Chickens are also infected at a small poultry farm in Nordfriesland, part of Germany's Schleswig-Holstein state. Health experts say people should avoid touching sick or dead birds, and chicken and eggs are safe to eat if cooked thoroughly, as that kills the virus. A poultry farm in Frodsham, north-west England, also has cases: a cull of 13,000 birds was ordered there on Monday.

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A smaller cull occurred at a farm in Kent, in the south-east, where the H5N2 avian influenza strain was detected last week. H5N8 has been detected in migratory birds from Russia. A huge cull was carried out on farms in Russia's western Kostroma region late last month, to contain an outbreak. The Dutch farms affected are just outside Nijmegen, 30km (19 miles) from the German border.


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