1. ITV Report

Japan begins culling over 300,000 chickens and ducks after contagious bird flu outbreak

Workers in protective suits cull ducks after some tested positive for H5 bird flu at a poultry farm in Aomori, northern Japan. Credit: Kyodo/via Reuters

Japan has begun culling more than 300,000 chickens and ducks following the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on farms in the north of the country.

Officials began the cull at in a village in the Niigata prefecture, north of Tokyo on Tuesday, after 40 birds were found dead from H5 bird flu.

The cull is expected to continue until December 2, an official said.

Further north in the prefecture of Aomori, about 16,500 ducks were being culled after some tested positive for bird flu.

The bird flu outbreaks are the first in Japan in almost two years.

Bird flu outbreaks have erupted across Europe in recent weeks. Credit: PA Wire

It is also the first time highly pathogenic avian influenza has been confirmed in Aomori prefecture, officials said on the prefecture's website.

Last week, South Korea announced a temporary nationwide standstill order for poultry farms and related transport in an attempt to contain a spread of H5N6 bird flu, a severe strain of the disease.

Another severe strain of bird flu, H5N8, has hit several countries in Europe, and led to the culling of thousands of poultry after it was detected in wild ducks in northern France.

There have also been outbreaks in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania and Germany in recent weeks.

Dutch authorities destroyed about 190,000 ducks at six farms on Saturday following an avian flu outbreak.