The Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Designed in the style of a traditional Chinese garden, it offers dozens of tiny shops selling exotic birds, bamboo cages, and other items of interest to the bird fancier.
Because of concerns over avian flu (and other bird diseases), Hong Kong's AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department) conducts routine inspection and testing of bird shops.Today the AFCD is announcing a 21-day closure of the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden after the detection of avian H5 in a swab taken from a bird from one of the local pet shops.
Hong Kong's CHP (Centre For Health Protection) has put the stall owner and workers under medical surveillance, while the AFCD has stepped up testing ans surveillance.
While no other samples have come back positive so far, both agencies are taking this incident seriously.First the statement, then I'll be back with more.
A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (April 13) that the H5 virus had been detected on a swab sample taken from a hill myna in a bird cage at a pet bird shop in Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok.
The swab sample was collected on April 7 for laboratory tests with other swab samples under the AFCD's routine avian influenza surveillance programme.
The Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation has declared Yuen Po Street Bird Garden as an infected place. The AFCD has closed the shop and removed all the birds to the Department's animal management centre in Sheung Shui for disposal.
As a precautionary measure, the Bird Garden will be closed for 21 days starting today. The AFCD has required all pet bird shop operators in the Bird Garden to undertake a thorough cleansing of their stalls. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department will step up cleansing of the Bird Garden. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will also enhance street cleansing in the vicinity of the Bird Garden.
Pet bird stalls in the Bird Garden are being closely monitored. So far nothing abnormal has been detected. AFCD staff will step up the inspection of all the stalls and collect swab samples for testing.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health has put stall operators and workers under medical surveillance.
The spokesman said that the AFCD collects some 250 swab samples each month from 33 pet bird stalls across the territory, including the 18 stalls at the Bird Garden, to test for avian flu viruses.
A total of 788 swab samples have been collected from the stalls as at end of March this year. Of the 2 980 samples that were tested last year, none was positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza.
Members of the public who might have recently visited pet bird shops located in the Bird Garden and had close contact with birds in the area are advised to seek medical advice as soon as possible if they develop respiratory symptoms.
The AFCD will contact 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 closely monitor local poultry farms and the wholesale market to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. The department will continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance.
"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 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 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 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 remain highly vigilant and strictly enforce preventive measures against avian influenza.
Health advice is available from the "Avian Influenza Health Advice" on the AFCD website at www.afcd.gov.hk.
Ends/Friday, April 13, 2018Issued at HKT 14:17
Twice in January (see Hong Kong FEHD Finds Another Shop Selling H5 Contaminated Poultry) Fresh Provision' shops in Hong Kong tested positive for `environmental' contamination with avian H5.
Although Hong Kong tightly controls and has greatly restricted the importation of live poultry from the Mainland, `chilled' or frozen chicken is imported in large quantities from a number of outside processing plants.
Shops that handle these products are routinely tested for the presence of AI viruses by Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD).In both cases, shops were sanitized, contaminated products removed, and no infections or injuries were reported.
As reported again last weekend, Hong Kong has also detected several wild birds carrying avian H5 this winter (see Hong Kong: Crested Myna Tests Positive For H5N6).
While Hong Kong has been spared from having to deal with H7N9 this past winter, these incident are a reminder that Hong Kong sits in a threat rich avian flu environment, and must remain constantly alert and ready to respond.