Quickly Share Accurate Information to Prevent further Spread of Bird Flu

Damage caused by avian flu outbreaks has reached a historically high level. The prevention system must be strengthened, and all possible measures must be taken to contain the virus.

Damage has been reported in a total of about 40 locations in 12 prefectures, mostly in Shikoku, Kyushu and the Kinki region. This is an extremely serious situation, as it has been only a month and a half since this season’s first case of the infection was confirmed in Japan.

More than 3.4 million chickens were culled in accordance with the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law after a highly toxic and pathogenic virus was detected. The number of chickens culled is nearly double that of 2010, when there were also outbreaks.

The virus is believed to have been carried by migratory birds from continental Asia. The virus has been found in the feces of wild birds in various places in the country. Migratory birds are expected to continue arriving in Japan until around spring.

To prevent the further spread of the virus, it is essential that local governments in the areas where the infection has been confirmed quickly restrict the movement of chickens and eggs, in addition to culling chickens.

Small animals that transmit the virus can slip in through small openings. It is not easy to prevent infection from occurring.

Miyazaki Prefecture, which is the nation’s top producer of broilers, conducts annual on-site inspections of poultry farms with more than 100 birds. This year, the prefecture inspected more than 900 locations, but even so, infections were found at eight locations, resulting in the culling of 420,000 birds.

Infections were found even in a new poultry house that had been completed only four months before.

Poultry and egg farmers are once again urged to thoroughly follow the basics of preventive measures, such as changing into special boots when inside the poultry houses and regularly checking protective netting for torn spots. They are also urged to be mindful of the need to frequently disinfect poultry houses.

It is also important to communicate information when a suspected case of an infected chicken is found.

According to experiments conducted by research institutes, this season’s virus takes longer to kill chickens after they are infected than in the past. The longer it takes to detect any abnormalities, the greater the risk of the infection spreading.

Local governments and farmers should be prepared to communicate information about the infection as soon as possible by using mailing lists and other means. It will also be important to set up a forum for information sharing, such as by holding regional meetings on preventive measures.

During the year-end and New Year period, it is feared that there will be a shortage of personnel and supplies for the work. It is important to be prepared to deal with infections at any time.

The consumption of chicken meat and eggs is said to be high this year due to strong demand from people staying at home. Farmers who are forced to cull their chickens during the busy season must be very disappointed. There have been no reported cases of infection among people who have eaten chickens or eggs. The central and local governments should make efforts to disseminate accurate information so as not to spark harmful rumors.