TOKYO • Japan has mobilised its military to help with a second mass cull of 230,000 chickens, amid a spreading outbreak of a highly contagious strain of avian flu, officials said.
The highly virulent H5 strain was found in chickens at a farm in Joetsu City in Niigata prefecture.
A total of 2,100 people, including 1,020 members of the military, are being mobilised in the effort to kill the chickens and contain the virus. The chicken slaughter began late on Wednesday and is expected to continue until Sunday.
The authorities have also banned the transport of poultry and poultry products in areas close to the affected farm, while sterilising main roads leading to them.
The latest bird flu outbreak in Joetsu City marks the third in Japan in less than a week. The authorities have culled nearly 320,000 chickens and some 16,500 ducks after the discovery of the first H5 bird flu case nearly two years.
Farm minister Yuji Yamamoto urged Niigata prefecture to "enhance measures" to prevent the virus from spreading, said Jiji Press.
On Tuesday, South Korea said it would cull 3 per cent of its total poultry population of 84.7 million to curb an outbreak of the H5N6 variety of bird flu that has hit several farms across the country.
Since the severe strain cropped up on Nov 18, South Korea has stepped up its quarantine measures. To contain the further spread of the virus, the country will slaughter at least 2.78 million birds, including 1.68 million that have already been culled.
The bird flu outbreak comes amid a growing number of cases in other countries, including France and Germany.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS