Preliminary testing of a black-headed gull found in Tuen Mun has returned a positive result for the H5 avian influenza virus, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (January 29), adding that further confirmatory tests are being conducted.
The sick black-headed gull was found and collected at Mouse Island Children's Playground, Hoi Wing Road, Tuen Mun on January 25. The bird died the next day. The black-headed gull is a common winter visitor.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has stepped up cleansing and disinfection of the venue.
The spokesman said that one chicken farm is within 3 kilometres of where the bird was found. AFCD staff inspected the farm and found no abnormal mortality or symptoms of avian influenza among the chicken flocks. The farm will be put under enhanced surveillance.
In view of the case, the AFCD 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 and licence holders of pet poultry and racing pigeons reminding them that proper precautions must be taken.
The spokesman said the department would conduct frequent inspections of 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 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 www.afcd.gov.hk.
Ends/Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:19