Bird flu detected in Japan identified as H5N1

TOKYO — Tests have confirmed that bird flu detected in
chickens in southern Japan was the virulent H5N1 strain that has
been blamed for more than 160 human deaths worldwide, the Japanese
Agricultural Ministry said Tuesday.

About 4,000 chickens died last week at a farm in Kiyotake town
in Miyazaki state. Earlier test results Saturday only confirmed the
bird flu strain was an H5 virus but not which one.

On Tuesday, further tests by the National Institute of Animal
Health near Tokyo identified the virus as H5N1, Agricultural
Ministry official Hiroyuki Ozono said.

Miyazaki officials on Monday burned all the dead birds and 8,000
surviving chickens at the farm.

The government has banned the shipment of eggs and nearly
200,000 chickens at 16 farms within about a 6-mile radius of the
affected farm, where local authorities were to take further
disinfectant measures Tuesday.

Since 2003, the H5N1 bird flu strain has killed at least 161
people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Japan
has confirmed one human case, but reported no human deaths.

Most of those killed have been infected by sick birds, but WHO
fears the virus could mutate into a form that easily spreads among
humans, possibly sparking a pandemic.