Mon, Jun 18, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Hong Kong closes market after bird flu virus discovered

AP , HONG KONG

The Hong Kong government closed a pet bird market yesterday after a bird there was found to be carrying the H5N1 bird flu virus strain.

A routine bird flu surveillance program detected H5N1 in a fecal swab sample from a Daurian starling, the government said in a statement issued on Saturday night.

The statement said the swab sample was collected on June 4 at a pet bird shop in Hong Kong's bird garden, where about 70 shops sell pet birds and related products.

All birds at the shop involved were removed, the statement said. It did not say what would be done with them.

Hong Kong's administration has ordered a closure, until further notice, of all the pet bird shops in the bird garden for cleansing and disinfection, the statement said.

All stall vendors and workers have also been put under medical surveillance, it said.

The territory tests more than 200 swab samples from pet bird shops for avian flu viruses each month. None of the 3,000 samples collected last year were reported positive.

Hong Kong aggressively tests for bird flu following a 1997 outbreak when the disease jumped to humans and killed six people in the territory.

The situation prompted the government to slaughter Hong Kong's entire known poultry population of about 1.5 million birds.

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