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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's western Kagawa prefecture has begun a cull of 91,000 chickens after the discovery of a highly contagious form of bird flu on a farm, the local government said.

The confirmation of the outbreak, which was reported earlier in the week, marked the country's first cases of bird flu in poultry this winter.

The local government and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said late Thursday that chickens at a farm in the area of Sanuki city in Kagawa had been confirmed testing positive for a highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government on Friday held a ministerial meeting to ensure all-out efforts to prevent the spread of flu following the outbreak.

The meeting was held after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday instructed MAFF and other relevant government agencies to urge poultry farmers to stay alert and take prompt measures to prevent the epidemics.

Japan's last outbreak of bird flu occurred in March. Between November 2016 and March 2017, a total of 1.67 million chickens were culled due to the H5N6 strain of bird flu, according to the ministry.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori and Kaori Kaneko; editing by Richard Pullin and Amrutha Gayathri)

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The citizens' meeting

The citizens' meeting

The citizens' meeting

Reuters