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Bird flu found on Japanese farm

Some 15,000 chickens were shipped from a Japanese poultry farm ahead of initial tests for bird flu that produced positive results, but the meat did not reach the retail market, local government officials said on Friday.
/ Source: Reuters

Some 15,000 chickens were shipped from a Japanese poultry farm ahead of initial tests for bird flu that produced positive results, but the meat did not reach the retail market, local government officials said on Friday.

The meat from the birds was being stored in a warehouse in Hyogo prefecture near the western city of Kyoto where the farm was located, an official with the Kyoto government said.

Officials conducted the initial tests for bird flu after learning that about 10,000 chickens on the farm had died since mid-February.

“This is a suspected case of bird flu,” a farm ministry official said earlier on Friday, adding that further tests would be done to confirm the results.

The results of the tests are expected to be available early next week.

A local Kyoto government official said three dead chickens and two live ones had tested positive for the virus.

The local official said Kyoto prefecture first received reports on Thursday night that more than 1,000 chickens had been dying each day since around February 20 on the farm, which raises the poultry for their eggs.

Suspected in Nagano
It was not immediately clear why the farm had delayed reporting the deaths.

Birds raised for their eggs are regularly slaughtered once they are no longer productive.

The farm is large-scale, holding about 198,000 birds, officials in Kyoto said.

Earlier in the week, the government of Nagano prefecture in central Japan also said it was checking on what could be a case of bird flu.

A Nagano government official said tests had been conducted on six birds kept as pets, one of which had died in suspicious circumstances.

No official confirmation has been made so far in Nagano.

Japan has confirmed two outbreaks of bird flu, the first in January and a second last week.

Both cases were found to be the virulent H5N1 strain of the virus which has been blamed for the deaths of at least 22 people in Asia.

There have been no reports of the virus infecting humans in Japan.

Earlier this month Japan declared an end to the first outbreak of the flu, which hit the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi.

The second outbreak was reported in Oita prefecture on the island of Kyushu, across a narrow body of water from the site of the first outbreak.