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Japan confirms bird flu case: reports

Japan has confirmed its first bird flu outbreak since 2005, local media said Saturday. About 2,400 chickens have died at a farm in the south of the country, including 1,650 on Friday alone, reports said.

"It was confirmed as a case of a highly pathogenic 'H5' kind of bird flu," said national network Japan Broadcasting Corporation, following similar reports filed by Jiji Press and Kyodo News.

Authorities have sanitized the farm, which kept around 12,000 birds in Miyazaki prefecture, some 900 kilometers (558 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

It was not immediately clear whether the reports were referring to the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which is potentially fatal to humans. Officials declined to comment on the reports.

Local authorities have already isolated chickens still alive at the affected farm and told other poultry farms within a 10-kilometer (six-mile) radius to stop moving chickens and eggs.

Japan confirmed an outbreak of the H5N1 strain bird flu in January 2004 for the first time in 79 years.

Since then, the nation saw several cases of outbreaks with the H5N1 strain in 2004, as well as outbreaks with the less serious H5N2 virus in 2005.

Bird flu has killed more than 150 people worldwide since late 2003. There are fears it could mutate and become a far more highly contagious disease for human, triggering a deadly, global pandemic.

 

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