Bird flu virus hits Japan12/01/2004 - 08:49:01
A highly contagious bird flu has killed thousands of chickens in southern Japan, an official said today.
By last night, about 6,000 chickens had died of the disease at a poultry farm in the town of Ato in Yamaguchi, about 500 miles south-west of Tokyo.
Tests found the virus was a strain of the H5 virus, the same category as the H5N1 virus that spread in South Korea last year said. Authorities are still investigating whether it is the deadly H5N1-97 strain which killed six people in Hong Kong in 1997.
Avian flu generally infects only birds, although it has spread to people in a few isolated cases.
Eggs which have been shipped to market from the Yamaguchi farm were recalled, and the farm’s remaining 28,600 birds will be all destroyed and buried within days, the official added. He said chicken from the farm is not for export.
Bird flu was last found in Japan 79 years ago, officials said.
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