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Japan Restricts Chicken Shipments After Bird Flu Outbreak

Chicken Farm in Japan
Workers wearing protective suits enter a chicken farm in Taragi town, Kumamoto Prefecture on April 13, 2014. Source: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

Japan has restricted shipments of almost 400,000 chickens in Kumamoto prefecture after the nation’s first outbreak of bird flu in three years, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

Local authorities will today finish culling about 112,000 chickens in two farms in the prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, Yoshihiro Kawada at the ministry’s animal health division said by phone from Tokyo.

Japan started culling yesterday following the discovery of the H-5 avian influenza virus that killed about 1,100 chickens in a farm in Taragi town in the prefecture. The other one in a nearby village is owned by the same operator of the infected farm, Kawada said.

In the previous outbreak spanning from November 2010 through March 2011, the Japanese government destroyed 1.83 million chickens in 24 farms in 9 prefectures, according to the ministry. The country currently grows a total of 260 million chickens to produce eggs and meat.

The government is investigating the route of the infection, Kawada said. The shipment restrictions will be lifted in early May if they discover no more cases, he said.

In neighboring South Korea, authorities have culled about 11.9 million ducks and chickens as of March 30, according to the nation’s agriculture ministry. Poultry demand tumbled as much as 70 percent since the outbreak of the H5N8 avian influenza virus in January, the ministry said in February.

The spread of the H7N9 virus among poultry in live bird markets in China’s Guangxi Province has increased the risk that it will spread to other neighboring countries, posing an increased human health risk, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in a statement Feb. 5.

South Korea hasn’t reported any cases of the H7N9 strain, which has caused deaths in people in China. There have not been any reported cases of H5N8 in people in South Korea.

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