Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster, & H5N1 avian flu, too
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2011:
CHIBA, Japan–Chiba prefecture Governor Kensaku Morita told a
March 13, 2011 press conference that the earthquake and
tsunami-ravaged region is also fighting an outbreak of H5N1 avian
flu–potentially lethal to humans.
Chiba, second among Japanese prefectures in egg production,
lies between Tokyo and the prefectures to the northeast that had the
most displaced people and animals. Living in severely crowded
conditions, with disrupted sanitation, inadequate food, and often
little protection from the elements, many victims–both human and
animal–were already in weakened health due to effects of the tsunami
and, in some cases, perhaps exposure to radiation from the
malfunctioning Fukushima nuclear complex.
Four of seven dead chickens found at a Chiba egg farm in the
two days after the earthquake and tsunami tested positive for H5N1,
Associated Press reported. “Local authorities began culling about
35,000 birds at the farm and restricted movement of another 869,000
birds raised within a 10-kilometer radius of the farm in question,”
Associated Press added.
H5N1 has repeatedly hit Japan since 2003. Officials believed
they had eradicated H5N1 in 2004, but it reappeared in 2007. H5N1
was again believed to have been eradicated in February 2009, but
re-emerged in Shimane prefecture in November 2010.
Little information about the latest outbreak was available
from Japanese sources, but Taiwan Animal & Plant Health Inspection &
Quarantine Bureau director Hsu Tien-lai on March 13, 2011 told media
that World Organization for Animal Health records showed that H5N1
had afflicted 22 farms in eight prefectures in Japan between January
1, 2011 and the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. A parallel and
possibly related outbreak hit 48 farms across four provinces in South
Korea. More than 1.77 million chickens in Japan and 1.14 million
chickens and ducks in South Korea had been culled in efforts to keep
the outbreaks from spreading.
“In the greater scheme of things this outbreak is a
distraction from the problems associated with the recent earthquake,
tsunami, and nuclear power station fires,” opined epidemiologist
Martin Hugh Jones, monitoring the outbreak for the International
Society for Infectious Diseases. But Chiba governor Morita took a
different view. “This is a very severe situation, as damage from
the huge earthquake is also serious,” Morita emphasized to reporters.