Avian flu nightmare returns to Japan
The first avian flu case of the season was found on a farm in Saga Prefecture. Last year, the country had to cull 17.71 million chickens because of the virus. The local prefecture, the government, and the World Health Organisation are mobilising to put in place countermeasures to prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – After the H5N1 bird flu was detected in several farms in South Korea this week, a H5N1 case was reported at a chicken farm in Kashima, in Saga Prefecture, Japan’s Agriculture Ministry confirmed this morning.
This is the first case of the season of highly pathogenic avian flu at a poultry farm in the country. Saga prefectural authorities begun culling about 40,000 chickens raised at the farm in the city of Kashima.
A genetic test conducted early Saturday morning confirmed the case of avian flu after an increase in the number of dead chickens was reported on Friday afternoon.
After meeting with prefectural officials on Saturday, Saga Governor Yoshinori Yamaguchi ordered them to prevent any spread of the avian flu infection. “An initial response is key,” he said.
For his part, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with relevant officials later in the day to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched an emergency procedure in the country, which includes an investigation into the case and boosting monitoring throughout Asia.
Last year, Japan reported the first cases of avian flu of the season at farms in Okayama and Hokkaido prefectures on 28 October.
The infections then spread to 26 prefectures, forcing the record culling of 17.71 million chickens.
This led to a severe shortage in the supply of eggs, causing the average price of medium-sized eggs to hit record levels, at 350 yen per kilogram, in the Tokyo area between April and May this year.