BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Tuesday confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at broiler chicken farms in a central province, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement.

Flocks are particularly vulnerable to avian flu during the drier winter months, following which outbreaks usually die down.

The outbreak in Hexian, a city of about 500,000 people in the province of Anhui, was caused by the H5N6 strain of virus, and has been brought under control, the ministry said on its website.

ADVERTISEMENT

The local government culled 30,196 fowl after the outbreak, which infected 28,650 broiler chickens and killed 15,066 of the birds, it added.

The last bird flu outbreak, also of the H5N6 strain of the virus, killed 9,752 birds on quail farms in the southwestern province of Guizhou, the ministry said in August.

South Korea and Japan battled major outbreaks during the winter.

The H7N9 strain of the virus has caused at least 281 deaths since October in China, with two cases of human infection last month, authorities said last week.

Live poultry markets were shut down in many provinces following the human infections.

ADVERTISEMENT

China's last major bird flu outbreak in 2013 killed 36 people and cost the farm sector more than $6 billion in losses.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)