Officials have ordered the cullings of more poultry flocks as Japan faces its worst bird flu outbreak in history. The Avian Influenza virus has spread to new farms and currently affects more than 20% of the country’s 47 prefectures, with a record number of 3 million birds culled so far.
Over the weekend, the agriculture ministry announced that an egg farm in Higashiomi city in Shiga prefecture in southwestern Japan is getting ready to cull 11,000 birds after being struck by the viral outbreak. Kagawa prefecture also reported another outbreak, one month after the first one.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the outbreak in Japan and neighbouring South Korea is one of two distinct highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) epidemics affecting poultry globally, with both strains having originated in wild birds.
“The virus found in Japan is genetically very close to the recent Korean viruses and thus related to viruses in Europe from early 2020, not those currently circulating in Europe,” Madhur Dhingra, a senior animal health officer at the FAO, told Reuters by email.
“This means that we currently have two distinct H5N8 HPAI epidemics in eastern Asia and Europe,” she said.
The FAO has alerted the African health authorities to heighten surveillance of farms to avoid the spread of the European strain there.
All farms in Japan are required to disinfect facilities and follow through biosecurity protocols, and ensure proper installation of wild bird nets, agriculture ministry officials told Reuters this week.
Japan has suspended poultry imports from seven countries, including Germany.
Japan poultry inventory consists of 185 million laying hens and a 138 million broilers, according to the ministry of agriculture.
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