Authorities detects signs of bird flu at farm in northern Japan

Authorities have detected signs of bird flu at a farm in northern Japan and plan to kill 82,000 chickens, local officials said Monday. The farm in Ibaraki prefecture, just northeast of Tokyo, was already inside a quarantined area because of past outbreaks, Kyodo News agency reported.

Kyodo said 1.5 million birds had already been culled in the area because of bird flu fears. Authorities found signs of the disease in seven farms in the area at the end of August.

In Monday's case, antibody tests showed the chickens may be infected with a virus from the H5 family, Ibaraki prefectural officials said in a statement.

Signs of the antibodies means the chickens were infected in the past but had survived.

Japanese officials said the strain involved in the recent outbreaks is less virulent that the H5N1 variety that has ravaged poultry in Southeast Asia since 2003 and killed more than 60 people in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.

Bird flu hit Japan last year for the first time in decades, killing or prompting the extermination of hundreds of thousands of chickens. Japan also confirmed a human case of bird flu in December 2004, but no deaths have been reported.

An outbreak in June forced the culling of about 94,000 birds at another farm outside Tokyo. It was caused by the H5N2 bird flu strain, a variety not known to infect humans, reports the AP. I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team