Farm ministry team warns of bird flu outbreaks occurring every year in Japan amid global spread of the virus
An experts’ team of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has released a report warning that outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza are more likely to occur every season in Japan in the future.
This is due to bird flu outbreaks constantly seen in different parts of the world such as Europe.
The team pointed out there is a “very high” possibility of the disease infecting birds within the country from this autumn through next spring, calling on farmers to take thorough disease prevention measures.
Migratory birds carry the virus into Japan from Europe via Russia, and outbreaks usually occur in the country from fall through spring the following year.
Japan tends to see infections spread a year after frequent outbreaks occur in Europe.
Bird flu outbreaks occurred in Japan in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 seasons, two seasons in a row. Until then, infections had been reported only every few years in most cases.
Meanwhile, the report by the ministry’s investigation team on the disease released on Sept. 5 said that the 2021-2022 epidemic season was the largest ever recorded in Europe.
France confirmed 1,416 outbreaks, triple the figure reported in the previous season, while Italy marked 317, 106 times a year before.
A record high outbreaks of around 500 were reported in the United States, which had not seen any cases in the previous season.
In both Europe and the U.S., infections continue to be detected in poultry even after July.
Based on such circumstances, the team warned of the rising risk of outbreaks occurring in Japan through migratory birds.
The team said it is necessary for poultry farms to take disease prevention measures including avoiding entries by wild birds and animals that carry the virus and farmers sanitizing themselves thoroughly before entering poultry houses.
It also said it is important for the central and prefectural governments to take measures to prevent infections and be prepared for possible outbreaks.
In the previous season, 25 bird flu outbreaks were reported in poultry in Japan between November, which was earlier than an average year, through May, latest on record. Some 1.89 million chickens and other poultry were culled.
The team believes outbreaks occurred over a longer period of time because of the spread of infections among wild birds such as crows.