Japan declares itself free of avian flu; surveillance to continue

TOKYO, June 29 — Japan has declared itself free of highly contagious avian flu as of June 28 and notified the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Avian flu is a rapidly spreading viral disease that can infect many types of birds.

Japan’s agriculture ministry will accelerate talks with the countries to ask them to lift a trade ban they imposed on imports of Japanese poultry products from the start of the outbreak.

Between last November and March this year, the avian flu virus struck 12 farms in 9 prefectures: Aomori, Niigata, Hokkaido, Miyazaki, Kumamoto, Gifu, Saga, Miyagi, Chiba.

The government took various measures to contain the avian flu and since then there have been no further outbreaks reported in the country – a period of three months – the agriculture ministry said.

The ministry, however, stressed the need for continued surveillance, as multiple outbreaks of avian flu, with different virus strains, have been circulating around the world in recent years.

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