Avian flu outbreak sparks record slaughter of 10m birds in Japan

An unprecedented bird flu epidemic has been sweeping the world, hitting nations such as Japan and France. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO – Japan has culled close to 10 million birds in a record outbreak of avian influenza, as the authorities struggle to tamp down the disease that has already devastated poultry flocks worldwide.

The Agriculture Ministry said on Monday that 9.98 million birds have been culled this season, surpassing a previous record in fiscal 2020.

On Tuesday, it confirmed the disease at an egg farm in Miyazaki prefecture that housed about 100,000 hens.

The outbreak in Japan is adding to the unprecedented bird flu epidemic sweeping the world. Culls are curbing supplies of products from eggs to foie gras, exacerbating the food inflation that has hit consumer budgets in 2022.

The ministry said the disease has been found in at least 23 of Japan’s 47 prefectures this season. The avian flu season traditionally begins each October, as migratory birds shed infected droppings or saliva while leaving cool areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

The authorities have called on farmers to take steps such as fixing enclosures to prevent the entry of wild birds.

The virus does not typically infect humans, although some rare cases can occur. BLOOMBERG

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