Advanced Search
Business | Metro | Nation | World | Sports | Features | Specials | Delta Stories
Dead bird tested positive for H5N1 virus in Hong Kong
7/1/2007 9:50

The dead body of a scaly-breasted Munia found last week in the street of Hong Kong was confirmed to be H5N1 positive after a series of laboratory tests, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong said yesterday.

It is the first case of H5N1 avian influenza strain ever reported in Hong Kong this winter.

The carcass was collected by the department's staff in Leighton Road, Hong Kong, following a public referral on Dec. 31, 2006.

A department spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene.

"They should avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them," he said.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Saturday also urged the public not to release birds as they have little chance of surviving in the wild.

The department's spokesman said AFCD staff had contacted the community organizations concerned to make such an appeal.

"We reminded the groups and sought their cooperation and noted that they would spread the message to their members," he said.

On pet birds imported from the Chinese mainland, the spokesman said all of them must come from registered farms and must be accompanied by an official veterinary health certificate to certify the birds have been quarantined and tested free from avian influenza H5 viruses.

"Currently, there are two registered farms in Guangdong. The farms are inspected and monitored by the Mainland authorities concerned and AFCD officers also inspect the farms from time to time," he said.

"The farms which are allowed to export birds to Hong Kong must have no outbreak of avian influenza in the past 180 days. In addition, all the birds must have no clinical signs of diseases."

The spokesman emphasized that all consignments from the Chinese mainland must comply with all requirements including health certification and subject to inspection no matter they come by sea, air or land.

A report alleging that there is no control on such imports from the Mainland was incorrect, he added.

China's mainland officials will inspect the birds before the birds are allowed to be exported to Hong Kong.

When the consignment arrives at the Hong Kong import control point, AFCD officers will inspect the birds' health and welfare conditions and verify the health certification. Samples will be taken for avian influenza H5 testing.

As far as the Munia species is concerned, the department's record showed that about 38,000 heads were imported into Hong Kong from the mainland in 2006. The group included White-backed Munia and Scaly-breasted Munia.

Scaly-breasted Munia is a resident bird in Hong Kong.

The spokesman added that all pet bird traders must obtain an animal trader license and they were being regularly inspected by AFCD officers.

"We have stepped up inspection of the Bird Garden from three times a week to five times a week," he said.

"Samples are regularly collected for testing of avian influenza viruses. Of the 2,400 samples that were tested last year, none was positive for avian influenza."

The department has also contacted the Customs and Excise Department to maintain vigorous surveillance and control on illegal import or smuggling of birds.

The spokesman stressed that the department had a very effective and intensive system monitoring avian influenza in wild birds.

"Fresh droppings from wild birds including migratory birds are collected for H5 avian influenza testing. Last year, 6,400 samples were collected and the results are all negative," he said.

"As for dead birds collected for testing last year, 17 of some 10,000 birds were tested positive," the spokesman added.