Last Friday Hong Kong reported an H5N6 Positive Chicken Carcass Found On Lung Kwu Tan Beach, along with three other badly decomposed carcasses. Today, the discovery of another H5N6 infected carcass has been announced, picked up in the waters off Lantau Island.
In previous years (2009-2012) we've seen similar reports - albeit with the H5N1 virus - badly decomposed poultry carcasses washing up on the beaches of Hong Kong, presumably carried to the sea via the Pearl River, which flows out of Guangdong Province, China.
The assumption - never proven - was that farmers with infected flocks were doing some clandestine dumping of dead or dying poultry rather than reporting outbreaks to local authorities and risking a greater cull.
Given the size of the Pearl River Delta's outflow, and the expanse of the Zhujiang River Estuary, any recovered carcasses likely represent only a fraction of the total dumped upstream.
This from Hong Kong's CHP:
Chicken carcass found at Tai O tests positive for H5N6 virus
A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (February 23) that a chicken carcass found at Tai O was confirmed to be H5N6 positive.
Laboratory testing revealed that the highly decomposed chicken carcass collected in the water off Kat Hing Back Street at Po Chue Tam, Tai O, on February 18 was positive for H5N6.
The spokesman said there are no poultry farms within 3 kilometres of where the dead chicken was found. AFCD staff will inspect the vicinity of Po Chue Tam and monitor if there is any backyard poultry.
A ban on backyard poultry has been in force since 2006. Unauthorised keeping of five kinds of poultry - chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons or quails - is an offence with a maximum fine of $50,000. Repeat offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $100,000.
The AFCD will conduct inspections of poultry farms and the wholesale market to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. The department will also continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance.
The spokesman said that the department has phoned poultry farmers to remind them to strengthen precautionary and biosecurity measures against avian influenza. Letters have been issued to farmers, pet bird shop owners, licence holders of pet poultry and racing pigeons reminding them that proper precautions must be taken.
"People should avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry and their droppings. They should clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them. The public can call the Call Centre on 1823 for follow-up if they come across suspicious sick or dead birds, including the carcasses of wild birds and poultry," the spokesman said.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will continue to be vigilant over imported live poultry as well as live poultry stalls. It will also remind stall operators to maintain good hygiene.
The Department of Health will keep up with its health education to remind the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent avian influenza.
The AFCD, the FEHD, the Customs and Excise Department and the Police will strive to deter the illegal import of poultry and birds into Hong Kong to minimise the risk of avian influenza outbreaks caused by imported poultry and birds that have not gone through inspection and quarantine.
Health advice is available from the "H5N1 Health Advice" on the AFCD website at www.afcd.gov.hk .
Ends/Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:33