Japan culling 330,000 birds to fight avian flu

Wearing anti-virus suits, soldiers of the Ground Self Defense Force head for chicken farm in Sekikawa, Niigata prefecture, on Nov 29, 2016.
Wearing anti-virus suits, soldiers of the Ground Self Defense Force head for chicken farm in Sekikawa, Niigata prefecture, on Nov 29, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan has begun slaughtering more than 330,000 farm birds to contain its first outbreaks of a highly contagious strain of avian flu in nearly two years, the government said on Tuesday (Nov 29).

The planned cull of some 16,500 ducks at a farm in the northern prefecture of Aomori and nearly 320,000 chickens at a farm in central Niigata prefecture, began on Tuesday, said top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

Authorities also banned the transport of poultry and poultry products in areas close to the farms affected by the H5 strain, while sterilising main roads leading to them.

"There are fears that it could occur in other regions (in Japan)" considering infections had been found among wild birds and there have been outbreaks in neighbouring countries, Suga said.

Japan's last confirmed case of avian flu was at a farm in January 2015.