Japanese authorities started to slaughter about 288,000 chickens at poultry farms in two prefectures after bird flu was confirmed early Friday.
In the north-eastern prefecture of Miyagi, about 200 local officials and 180 troops started to cull some 220,000 chickens at a poultry farm in the city of Kurihara after an H5 type of virus was detected in dead birds.
A total of 96 chickens were found dead at the farm Tuesday through Thursday.
In the city of Asahi in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, about 600 officials started to slaughter about 68,000 chickens at a poultry farm.
At the farm, 118 of them were found dead in the past three days. The local government confirmed an H5 type of virus in some of the dead birds in genetic testing.
The outbreaks prompted the two prefectural governments to restrict the movements of poultry and eggs in areas near the farms.
Since late November, cases of the highly pathogenic H5 virus have also been found at poultry farms in wide areas of Japan, including the southern island of Kyushu and the northernmost island of Hokkaido.