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Dead crows in Japan test positive for bird flu
Updated: 2004-03-08 13:58

Two dead crows found near a poultry farm in western Japan have tested positive for bird flu, raising concerns that the spread of the disease may be difficult to control, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.

One crow that tested positive was found adjacent to a farm that has been affected by bird flu and the other about 5 miles away, a ministry official said.

The official said it was likely the crows had been infected by chickens at the farm, which became the third poultry operation in Japan to be declared affected by bird flu on February 27.

"We cannot completely rule out the possibility that the crows may have spread the disease but if that was the case then we would have seen more visible cases of dead crows much earlier," the official said.

The farm, run by Asada Nosan Co, held about 250,000 chickens.

Police said on Monday an executive of the company had committed suicide along with his wife.

Asada Nosan had been criticized for not immediately reporting the deaths of large numbers of chickens at the farm.

Last Thursday, a farm five km from the Asada Nosan operation became the fourth in Japan to be declared affected by bird flu.

Japan's first outbreak of bird flu hit the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi in January. The second outbreak occurred in Oita prefecture on the island of Kyushu, across a narrow body of water from the site of the first outbreak, in mid-February.

All the confirmed cases carried the H5N1 strain, which has killed at least 22 people in Thailand and Vietnam. There have been no reports of the virus infecting humans in Japan.

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