February 25, 2004



New Suspected Bird Flu Case In Japan


A new suspected bird flu case was reported in western Japan on Wednesday in what would be the third outbreak since late December if confirmed.


A chicken on a farm in the western village of Achi, 200 kilometers west of Tokyo in Nagano prefecture, was tested for the disease by local health authorities after it was found dead Wednesday morning, said town official Toshihiro Mizuno. The result was positive, but a follow-up test later in the day at the same facility turned up negative, Mizuno said.


Prefectural health authorities in Nagano were conducting more detailed tests, but the results weren't expected for three or four days, he said.


The farm was disinfected as a precautionary measure, Mizuno said.


Japan has experienced two outbreaks in other parts of the country. More than 28,000 birds were destroyed in Yamaguchi prefecture, on the southwestern tip of the country's main island, after the disease was confirmed there in January. Last week, a group of pet bantams kept at a home in Oita prefecture, on Japan's southernmost main island, also tested positive.


Avian flu generally infects only birds, although it has spread to people in a few isolated cases. The latest outbreak has killed 15 people in Vietnam and seven in Thailand.


China, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam have been hit by bird flu. Pakistan and Taiwan are reporting a milder strain of the virus.