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February 2, 2006

 

Hong Kong finds more birds infected with avian flu


 

Two dead birds in Hong Kong--a wild crested mynah and a smuggled chicken from mainland China recently tested positive for bird flu, local authorities said on Wednesday.

 

The chicken was brought illegally into Hong Kong before the Lunar New Year period but health authorities do not know where it caught the deadly disease, said Thomas Tsang, Consultant of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health.

 

The bird was smuggled into Hong Kong on Jan 26 and became ill on Jan 31. The incubation period for the disease in birds is two to nine days.

 

Three people who handled the chicken were sent to a local hospital for tests and preliminary results are expected on Thursday.

 

The chicken died about half a kilometre from the border with mainland China in an area where a previous case of bird flu in a wild bird was discovered while the dead crested mynah was found in an urban playground, Tsang said.

 

All poultry within five kilometres of the smallholding where the chicken died will be culled and the city's walk-in aviaries and a nature reserve will be closed, said Thomas Sit, Acting Assistant Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation.

 

Despite bird flu worries, the government increased the number of chickens shipped into Hong Kong from mainland China a few days before the Jan 29 Lunar New Year.

 

Hong Kong farms have strict measures to keep poultry from coming into contact with wild birds, but there are numerous unprotected backyard farms with small flocks of ducks and chickens. The Hong Kong government said it would locally cull all chickens and suspend the local live poultry trade if two bird flu cases were confirmed in poultry farms within the territory.

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