Japan Detects 1st Bird Flu Case in Stork

Politics Society

Tokyo, Nov. 23 (Jiji Press)--A stork has died in Marugame, Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan, after getting infected with avian influenza, officials at the Kagawa and neighboring Tokushima prefectural governments said.

This marked the first bird flu case involving a stork in Japan, Tokushima officials said. Storks are designated as a special national treasure in the country.

The female stork, born in Naruto, Tokushima, in April last year and named Niji, was found dead at a pond in Marugame on Nov. 15. A gene test by the National Institute for Environmental Studies on Tuesday found that the stork had been infected with a highly pathogenic H5 strain of avian flu.

"I've been concerned about possible infection (in storks) because bird flu is spreading," said Fumiaki Shibaori, a board member of Tokushima Stork Fund, a nonprofit working to help storks live in the wild. "The death of Niji is very regrettable," he said.

A program to release artificially raised storks into the wild started in Japan in 2005. More than 300 storks have since been living in the wild, according to the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork in Toyooka, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press