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Japan bird flu outbreak spreads to farm in third prefecture

TOKYO (Reuters) - Bird flu has been detected in a third Japanese prefecture, the agriculture ministry said, as a wave of infections at poultry farms sparks the country’s worst outbreak in more than four years.

Avian influenza was discovered at an egg farm in Awaji city in Hyogo prefecture west of Tokyo, which is near Kagawa prefecture where the first infections were discovered in poultry earlier this month, the ministry said on its website.

The 146,000 chickens at the Hyogo farm will be slaughtered and buried, while movement in a 3 km (1.8 mile) radius around the farm will be restricted.

The new action means more than 1.8 million chickens will have have been culled since the latest outbreak began.

The government said on Wednesday it had detected an outbreak of bird flu on a chicken farm in southwestern Fukuoka prefecture, adding to the eight already reported in Kagawa prefecture west of Tokyo.

Japan’s last outbreak of bird flu was in January 2018, also in Kagawa prefecture, when 91,000 chickens were culled.

The last big outbreak was between November 2016 and March 2017, when a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu.

Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; editing by Richard Pullin

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