Friday, December 22, 2017

Hong Kong: Oriental Magpie Tests Positive For H5 Virus


Like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan - Hong Kong lies under the East Asian Migratory Flyway and gets its share of yearly avian visitors. From time to time we see reports of HPAI H5 viruses in either local or migratory birds. 
Today we've a report from Hong Kong's CHP that tests are underway on a dead Magpie Robin that has initially tested positive for the H5 virus. 
Until a few years ago, if a dead bird were found in Hong Kong that tested positive for HPAI H5, one could have reasonably assumed the culprit to be H5N1. All that began to change in 2014 with the emergence of HPAI H5N8 in South Korea, and H5N6 in China and Vietnam.

HPAI H5N6 first showed up in Hong Kong in the spring of 2015 (see Wild Bird Found Infected With H5N6) carried by a peregrine falcon, and has since been reported a handful of times (see Hong Kong Robin Positive For H5N6).

With the introduction of yet another strain of H5N6 this fall (see Tottori University: Shimane HPAI H5N6 A New Reassortment), and the increase in LPAI H5 virus detections reported this fall across South Korea, there are too many possibilities to hazard a guess on the virus in question.

We'll simply have to wait for the test results.

     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (December 22) that a dead Oriental magpie robin found in To Lok Road, Tseung Kwan O, was suspected to be H5 positive after initial laboratory testing. Further confirmation tests are being conducted.
     The dead bird was found and collected in 8 To Lok Road, Tseung Kwan O, yesterday (December 21). The Oriental magpie robin is a common resident of Hong Kong.
     The spokesman said cleaning and disinfection have been stepped up at the venue, adding that there are no poultry farms within 3 kilometres of where the dead bird was found.
     In view of the case, the AFCD already phoned poultry farmers to remind them to strengthen precautionary and biosecurity measures against avian influenza. Letters will be issued to farmers, pet bird shop owners and licence holders of pet poultry and racing pigeons reminding them that proper precautions must be taken.
     The spokesman said the department would ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. The department will continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance.
     "People should avoid 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 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.
     All relevant government departments will continue to be highly vigilant and strictly enforce preventive measures against avian influenza. Health advice is available from the "H5N1 Health Advice" page on the AFCD website at
Ends/Friday, December 22, 2017

Issued at HKT 21:21

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