Japan's Kagawa prefecture to cull 330,000 chickens after bird flu outbreak

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Kagawa prefecture will cull 330,000 chickens at a farm after the country’s first bird flu outbreak in poultry in more than two years, government officials said on Thursday.

Chickens at a farm in Mitoyo, a city in western Kagawa prefecture, tested positive in a preliminary examination for avian influenza on Thursday, officials from the agriculture ministry and the prefecture said.

The government will conduct further genetic tests to confirm whether the infection was a highly pathogenic strain of H5 bird flu or a lowly pathogenic one, the agriculture ministry official said.

The farm in question had notified the prefectural government of a suspected bird flu outbreak on Wednesday. About 3,800 chickens died in the four days through Wednesday, Kyodo News reported.

Japan’s last outbreak of bird flu occurred in January 2018, when 91,000 chickens at a farm in Sanuki city, also in Kagawa prefecture, were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Daniel Leussink; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Stephen Coates