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EPIDEMICS
Japan orders chicken cull after bird flu outbreak in south
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 13, 2014


China 2014 bird flu toll rises to nearly 100: govt
Beijing (AFP) April 11, 2014 - Almost 100 people in China died from the H7N9 bird flu strain in the first three months of the year, but the number of both fatalities and infections declined in March, government figures showed.

A total of 24 people died from the disease in March, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said in monthly figures for infectious disease, down from 41 in February and 31 in January. The total number of deaths for the period is 96.

The number of new infections reported in March fell sharply to 24 from 99 in February and 127 in January, the data showed earlier this week, giving a total of 250 cases.

Last year China recorded 46 deaths and 144 cases in the H7N9 outbreak, which started early in 2013 and returned in the autumn.

The virus ignited fears that it could possibly mutate to become easily transmissible between people, which might threaten to trigger a global pandemic.

But Chinese officials and the World Health Organization say there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, despite sporadic cases of apparent infection between family relatives.

Experts have pointed to a seasonal rise in cases so far this year, thought to be linked to cold weather.

China has responded to the current outbreak by clamping down on live poultry markets and stepping up monitoring of people with symptoms associated with the virus.

Japan has ordered the slaughter of some 112,000 chickens after officials confirmed Sunday bird flu infections at a poultry farm in the south.

DNA tests confirmed the H5 strain of the virus at a farm in Kumamoto prefecture that kept 56,000 birds, after its owner reported Saturday a lot of sudden deaths among his poultry, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Officials also ordered the culling of another 56,000 birds at a separate farm run by the same owner after treating it as a location of possible infections, the ministry said.

It was the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in Japan in three years.

The ministry has however been warning farmers about infection risks, citing the continued spread of the disease in Asia, including neighbouring South Korea.

Local authorities on Saturday banned movement of chickens from the two affected farms as well as other farms in their vicinities.

Authorities were sanitising areas around the two farms and testing birds at other area farms.

Officials were also setting up areas to disinfect vehicles travelling on major roads around the affected farms to prevent the virus from spreading further.

The government will dispatch a team of officials and experts to identify the cause of the latest infections and to assist local authorities to take necessary measures.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held a meeting with selected ministers, including Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, to discuss the outbreak.

"The government will take thorough measures to prevent wider infections," Suga told the meeting.

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