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Japan Culls 410,000 Chickens as Bird-Flu Outbreak Spreads

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Japan is culling about 410,000 chickens at a farm in the southern prefecture of Miyazaki as avian influenza spreads to the nation’s second-biggest growing region for poultry.

The government is taking measures to contain the disease as the H5 flu virus has been detected in chickens found dead in the farm in Shintomi town, about 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) from where the first flu outbreak this year was confirmed, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Officials in Miyazaki culled more than 10,000 chickens on Jan. 22 after six out of 36 chickens found dead at a separate farm tested positive for influenza.

“We have not received any additional reports of bird-flu outbreaks so far,” Shinichi Igawa, an official at the ministry’s animal health division, said today by phone.

The government has imposed a ban on movements of birds and eggs within a radius of 10 kilometers from the affected farms and is disinfecting vehicles in the area. The outbreak in Miyazaki followed the discovery of the virus in the western prefecture of Shimane in November, where about 20,000 chickens were culled.

Japan had 178 million egg-laying chickens and 107 million broiler chickens as of Feb. 1, 2009, according to the most recent data from the ministry.

Miyazaki is Japan’s largest grower of broilers after neighboring Kagoshima prefecture, according to the ministry.

Japan culled about 288,000 pigs, cows and cattle in Miyazaki prefecture last year to contain the nation’s first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease since 2000. It was the worst ever loss to Japan’s livestock industry, the ministry said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aya Takada in Tokyo atakada2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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