Avian flu pandemic Japan culling 330,000 birds to fight avian flu

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Wearing anti-virus suits, soldiers of Japan's Ground Self Defense Force head to a chicken farm in Sekikawa, Niigata prefecture, on November 29, 2016 play

Wearing anti-virus suits, soldiers of Japan's Ground Self Defense Force head to a chicken farm in Sekikawa, Niigata prefecture, on November 29, 2016

(Ground Self Defense Force via Ji/AFP)

Japan has begun slaughtering more than 330,000 farm birds to contain its first outbreaks of a highly contagious strain of avian flu in nearly two years, the government said Tuesday.

The planned cull of some 16,500 ducks at a farm in the northern prefecture of Aomori and nearly 320,000 chickens at a farm in central Niigata prefecture, began Tuesday, said top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

Authorities also banned the transport of poultry and poultry products in areas close to the farms affected by the H5 strain, while sterilising main roads leading to them.

"There are fears that it could occur in other regions (in Japan)" considering infections had been found among wild birds and there have been outbreaks in neighbouring countries, Suga said.

Japan's last confirmed case of avian flu was at a farm in January 2015.

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