Saga Prefecture - Credit Wikipedia
On the heels of two earlier outbreaks in Miyazaki Prefecture and one in Yamaguchi in December, and one just last week in Okayama prefecture, today we learn that HPAI H5 has been confirmed at a farm in Saga Prefecture, and that culling has been ordered on two local farms.
While the NA subtype of this latest outbreak has yet to be determined, the other four outbreaks have all tested as HPAI H5N8, apparently carried to Japan by overwintering migratory birds (see Japan: H5N8 Detected In Izumi Crane).
H5N8 first emerged as a threat to poultry in January of 2014 on the Korean Peninsula, and since that time has infected poultry farms in China, Japan, Germany, The Netherlands, The UK, Italy, and most recently Taiwan. The virus has also turned up in wild and migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, California, Utah, and far northern Russia.
While not currently viewed as posing a threat to human health, we’ve seen this well-traveled virus readily reassort with other avian viruses in Taiwan (producing new variants of both H5N2 and H5N3), plus it continues to evolve on its own (see EID Journal: Describing 3 Distinct H5N8 Reassortants In Korea).
Which makes any characterization of this virus subject to a range of caveats. For now, however, it H5N8 is viewed as primarily being a threat to the poultry industry.
The following announcements (translated) were posted on Japan’s MAFF website overnight.
January 18, 2015, in the poultry farm of Saga Prefecture, are suspected of highly pathogenic avian influenza, which is a livestock epidemic has been confirmed. We ask everyone to how the livestock officials, including the poultry breeding farmers, we ask that I am absolutely sure to early detection of thorough and abnormal poultry of again feeding and health management.
- Strengthening of monitoring system due to the confirmation of suspected affected animals of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Saga Prefecture (January 18, 2015 with) (PDF: 60KB)
- For domestic business trip Koizumi Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Deputy Minister
- For confirmation of suspected affected animals of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Saga Prefecture
- For highly pathogenic confirmation of cases that avian influenza is suspected and held "the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries avian influenza epidemic prevention headquarters" in Saga Prefecture
According to this article from the Japan Times, 73,000 birds on two farms will be immediately culled, and a local ban on the shipment of chickens and eggs has been imposed while adjacent farms are tested.
Jan 18, 2015
SAGA – The Saga Prefectural Government began culling about 72,900 chickens Sunday at two poultry farms in the town of Arita after confirming a bird flu outbreak at one of two farms operated by the same owner.