Almost 7.3 million chickens have been culled in Japan since early October amid a bird flu outbreak, Japanese media reported on Thursday.
The risk of infection will remain extremely high until spring, according to experts polled by the NHK broadcaster.
If infection rates continue to grow, the current outbreak will see more birds culled than the 2020-2021 outbreak, when almost 10 million birds were culled, the broadcaster said. Experts explain this by the fact that migrating birds have returned earlier than usual this year and infection was spreading fast across regions.
Bird flu has caused the price of chicken eggs — already high amid inflation and soaring food products — to spike to its 29-year peak, according to the report.
The first cases of avian influenza in Japan were detected in October, with 52 outbreaks registered in 18 prefectures since then. The infection is spreading much faster than last year.
The authorities have reportedly already imposed a ban on the transportation of chickens and eggs within a 3-kilometer (1.8 miles) radius around the outbreak hot spots as well as prohibited the export of chickens and eggs outside a 10-kilometer radius.