Japanese authorities on Monday began incinerating more than 10,000 chickens that have either died of bird flu at a southern Japanese poultry farm recently or culled there, officials said.
Separately, the Environment Ministry said that there were no signs of wild birds indicating a possible link to a pathogenic strain of the bird flu virus in last week's outbreak of the disease.
About 4,000 chickens died at a farm in the town of Kiyotake in Japan's southern prefecture (state) of Miyazaki last week, and local officials late Saturday said that the virus belonged to the broad H5 family.
Over the weekend, another 8,000 chickens at the firm were culled to prevent the spread of the nation's latest outbreak of the bird flu.
(AP) Wearing protective goggles, gloves and gear, workers prepare to cull chickens at a farm where at... Full Image Japanese agricultural officials have confirmed that the virus is a broad H5 family. The H5 subtype is a highly pathogenic form of the virus among poultry, but is not necessarily fatal to humans.
Experts at the National Institute of Animal Health near Tokyo are still conducting close examination on samples to determine whether the virus was the H5N1 strain, said Makoto Takahashi, a Miyazaki prefectural official.
Meanwhile, a group of Environment Ministry officials have conducted on-spot examination on droppings from wild birds found around the affected farm, but found "nothing unusual," said ministry official Yoshifumi Kubo.
A total of 31 kinds of birds, including 16 kinds of migratory birds like blue herons and wild ducks, were confirmed in an area of a 3-kilometer (1.9 mile) radius of the affected farm, Kubo said.
Kubo said the farm is surrounded by farm land and housing areas and that there are no large ponds or rivers nearby inhabitable for wild birds.
Monday evening, prefectural officials began incinerating the dead chickens or those culled at the farm, and packed in plastic bags, Takahashi said.
The government has banned shipments of eggs and 330,000 chickens at 16 poultry farms within a 6.2-mile radius of the farm. The compound of the farm involved has been disinfected following the outbreak of the disease.
Since 2003, the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus has killed 157 people worldwide, according to the WHO. Japan has confirmed one human case involving the H5N1 virus but reported no human deaths. Japan's most recent H5N1 outbreak occurred in Kyoto in 2004.
Miyazaki, about 560 miles southwest of Tokyo, is the country's largest poultry producing region.