Photo Credit- Wikipedia
Last week, in Hong Kong: Oriental Magpie Tests Positive For H5, we looked at the second detection of a wild bird in Hong Kong with HPAI H5 in a matter of three weeks. While we’ve seen birds carrying H5N1 show up in Hong Kong before, the peregrine falcon discovered on April 9th was the first imported case of HPAI H5N6 ever reported in the Territories.
Today it was announced that the oriental magpie-robin discovered last week was also infected with the H5N6 virus. This from the Hong Kong Government announcement.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said today (May 5) that an oriental magpie robin found in Sai Kung was confirmed to be H5N6 positive after a series of laboratory tests.
The sick bird was found and collected near 10B Sha Kok Mei First Lane, Sai Kung, on April 29.
The AFCD will continue to conduct inspections of poultry farms to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented.
The spokesman reminded people to observe good personal hygiene. "They should avoid personal contact with wild birds or live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them," he said.
Ends/Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:28
One of the recently emerged HPAI H5 viruses, it made headlines almost exactly one year ago when it produced at least one fatal human illness in Nanchong City, China, and was contemporaneously identified in local poultry (see Sichuan China: 1st Known Human Infection With H5N6 Avian Flu).
Since then it has infected at least two more in China, and has sparked at least 3 dozen poultry outbreaks across China and Vietnam.
Along with H5N8, H5N2, and the venerable H5N1 virus - this upstart addition to HPAI H5’s lineage has been making impressive gains geographically - presumably being spread by migratory birds. Before H5N8 began its big move last fall into Europe and North America (and spawned North American HPAI H5N2), the H5N6 virus was very near the top of our `avian flu strains to watch’ list.
In early November 2014, in FAO-EMPRES Report On The Emergence And Threat Of H5N6, we saw our first detailed look at H5N6, along with a short list of other newly emerged HPAI H5 viruses (including H5N8 & H5N3), that presciently warned
The possibility exists that wild birds could become infected and spread these viruses to other countries or continents. Migratory birds, which have played a key role in the introduction of H5N1 to Europe and Africa [Kilpatrick et al, 2006] and of H5N8 to the Republic of Korea [Jeong et al, 2014], could spread the viruses to other countries or continents.
Three weeks later it was announced that HPAI H5 had arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and since then it has spread across two provinces in Canada and 18 U.S. states. H5N8 also winged its way into Europe last winter, making it as far as the UK.
Although not spreading in anywhere near as spectacular fashion as H5N8 or H5N2, the fact that H5N6 has already demonstrated a limited ability to infect humans when its more-traveled cousins have not, provides it with a bit of extra gravitas.
Making H5N6 very much still a virus to watch.