Bird flu detected in Japan, believed to be not H5N1 strain that kills people

Authorities have detected bird flu at a poultry farm in northern Japan but don't suspect it to be the deadly H5N1 strain that has killed at least 64 people and ravaged poultry stocks in Asia, officials said Monday. Officials have extracted and identified an H5 virus in chickens at a poultry farm in Ibaraki prefecture (state), the prefectural government said in a statement.

Officials have yet to determine what strain of the H5 family the virus is, but authorities believe it to be the H5N2 strain, which is less virulent than the H5N1 variety, according to wildlife official Nobuhito Kuriyama, according to the AP.

About 80,000 birds from one of the nine poultry houses at the farm will be culled and the movement of their eggs banned as a precautionary measure, the prefectural government said.

The remainder of the farm's 710,000 birds will not be culled, it said.

Earlier tests in August showed that chickens at the farm had antibodies for a virus from the H5 family, meaning that they were infected in the past but had survived, Kuriyama said.

Authorities have been repeating tests on the birds every two weeks, he said.

Ibaraki is about 100 kilometers (64 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

Bird flu hit Japan last year for the first time in decades, with several outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain. The country confirmed a human case of bird flu last December but nobody has died.

In late October, Japan set up a task force to plan against a possible outbreak of bird flu among humans.


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