Government officials in Japan’s southern prefecture of Miyazaki are alarmed after genetic tests on dead chickens on a farm confirmed the presence of a highly pathogenic bird flu virus. Prefectural officials have culled 42,000 chickens on the farm and set up 10 sterilization points around the facility. This is the second outbreak in the country within the month of December, with the previous being a Dec. 16 confirmed case of the H5N8 virus, also in Miyazaki. Roughly 4,000 chickens were culled during that episode. Miyazaki’s current outbreak has also tested positive for the H5 virus strain.
The poultry farm reported to the prefectural government Sunday that chicken deaths were on the rise. A simple test on the dead chickens found that all of the dead birds tested positive for bird flu.
The infected farm raises some 42,000 chickens, and all of the poultry were culled following positive tests for the pathogen, as per government procedures. Transportation of fowl within a 1.8 mile radius of the farm has been prohibited, and outbound shipments of 1.93 million fowl within 6.2 miles of the farm was banned.
A government official said it is uncertain whether this latest case is linked to the Dec. 16 outbreak, according to Japan Times. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also instructed the appropriate ministries to ensure proper quarantine measures in the region, and the central government was planning to dispatch an emergency assistance team.
“Unlike the first case (on Dec. 16), the bird flu this time will involve far bigger numbers of chickens and farms. We need to move quickly,” Miyazaki Gov. Shunji Kono said at an emergency meeting Sunday. “We really didn’t want the second case to take place,” said Tetsuro Nakada, a prefectural official. “We must do our best to keep the virus from spreading.”
The avian flu has being going around East Asia, affecting mainland China and Hong Kong. While Japan’s confirmed strains are of the H5 variety, mainland China and Hong Kong’s cases are of the H7N9 variety. Mainland China has reported 11 new cases to the World Health Organization this month, including five deaths, and recent statistics from Beijing show that 310 cases were diagnosed from January to December 2014, including 132 deaths.