Japan's environment ministry said Sunday that it detected the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza in the body of an endangered eagle in southern Japan's Kumamoto prefecture.
The mountain hawk eagle, which was found to be ailing in the village of Sagara on Jan. 4 and died shortly afterward, has been confirmed to have contracted the virus, after being examined by a university laboratory, Kyodo News reported.
The environment ministry has planned to catch wild birds and collect bird droppings around the area where the bird was found, to find out if there was spread of the virus.
Earlier this year, several bird flu outbreaks occurred in different chicken farms in southern Japan, some of which were involved with the H5N1 strain.
The H5N1 strain is a subtype of the influenza A virus that can cause illness in humans and many other animal species.
It is feared that the bird-to-bird disease of avian flu could mutate into a virus transmissible between humans and lead to a pandemic.