Japanese officials ordered the slaughter of about 112,000 chickens at two poultry farms after confirming the nation's first case of bird flu for three years.
DNA tests have revealed the H5strain of the virus at a farm with 56,000 birds in Kumamoto prefecture, on the southern island of Kyushu, after the owner reported many sudden deaths among his poultry on Saturday, Japan's agriculture ministry said.
Officials also ordered the culling of another 56,000 birds at a separate farm run by the same poultry owner after treating it as the location of possible infections, the ministry said.
It was the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in Japan since 2011, when it was discovered in Chiba prefecture, north of Tokyo.
However, the ministry had been warning farmers for some time about infection risks, citing the continued spread of the disease in Asia, including neighbouring South Korea.
On Saturday, local authorities banned the movement of chickens from the two affected farms, as well as other nearby farms.
Authorities have been sanitising areas around the two farms and testing birds for the virus at other farms.
Officials were also setting up areas to disinfect vehicles travelling on major roads around the affected farms to prevent the virus from spreading further.
The government will dispatch a team of officials and experts to identify the cause of the latest outbreak and to help local authorities to take the necessary measures.
Tomoyuki Takehisa, an agricultural ministry official, said there is believed to be no risk of the virus spreading to humans through the consumption of chicken eggs or meat.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga discussed the outbreak with selected ministers, including Agriculture Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.
"The government will take thorough measures to prevent wider infections," Suga said.
Agence France-Presse, Reuters