Published Date: 2002-02-06 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza - China (Hong Kong) (02)
Archive Number: 20020206.3492
AVIAN INFLUENZA - CHINA (HONG KONG) (02)
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Avian influenza? - China (Hong Kong) 20020203.3475
Avian influenza,H5N1 - China (Hong Kong) (05) 20010522.0991
Avian influenza, H5N1 - China (Hong Kong) (06) 20010528.1038
Date: Wed 06 Feb 2002
From: Catherine M. Torres <TORRESK1@WESTAT.com
Source: South China Morning Post - SCMP, filed 05 Feb 2002 [edited
Hong Kong H5N1 Flu Outbreak in Chickens
Bird flu spread yesterday with a fresh outbreak confirmed on a second farm
in Yuen Long, as experts prepared to carry out checks on all poultry farms
in the territory. Officials ordered the killing of 64 000 chickens today at
the farm where 1000 birds were found dead yesterday morning. The farm in
Kam Tin is close to the first one infected in the latest outbreak, where a
cull of more than 100 000 chickens took place at the weekend. A third farm
in the same area was also reported to have had mysterious chicken deaths,
and an investigation was still under way last night. More than 168 000
birds have been culled to date at an estimated cost to the Government of 5
million dollars in compensation for farms and retail outlets, according to
Secretary for Environment and Food, Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying.
In the latest outbreak, the farm owner said he first found chickens dying
on Saturday, and the situation had worsened rapidly. About 3000 birds were
killed yesterday afternoon from all 13 stalls at Tsuen Wan Market after
dead chickens were found. Officers killed 300 chickens at the market on
Sunday after 29 birds in a stall died mysteriously. The stall had taken
some of its stock from the infected Yuen Long farm.
Assistant Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Rhonda Lo Yuet-yee
said there was no problem for people who had bought chickens in Tsuen Wan
before the slaughter began. "Buyers usually select chickens which look
healthy," she said. "It's okay if the birds are 100 per cent cooked."
Mrs Yam said test results confirmed that the H5 flu virus was found in
chicken samples from the first infected farm. But it would take about a
week to confirm whether the particular strain could be narrowed down
further to the H5N1 variety, which killed 6 people in a bird flu outbreak
in 1997. She said it would be hard to say if more chickens would be culled,
stressing that public health was the main concern.
"We cannot rule out the possibility that the virus has spread to other
markets. What we can do is to monitor the situation closely." Mrs Yam
stressed there was no evidence so far to show the virus would affect
humans. Inspectors from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Department will be sent to all 142 chicken farms as an emergency measure to
monitor birds' health. Mrs Yam confirmed that no chickens from mainland
farms, which account for about 90 percent of total live chicken supplies,
had been found to be infected. She stressed the situation at all other
markets was normal and that poultry sales would continue. Only 15 dead
chickens were found yesterday in all other markets in the SAR. She said the
existing surveillance system was effective and the cull was necessary to
prevent the virus spreading.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa said last night that 3 bird flu outbreaks in
4 years was unacceptable. "We really need to look for a long-term
solution." Senior government sources said authorities would tighten
inspections on chickens at local farms. Apart from inspecting birds every
week, hygiene officers would also carry out tests in Cheung Sha Wan
Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market before stocks were sent to retail outlets.
The sources said central slaughtering of all poultry was still an option,
but this would be expensive and it would be difficult to find an
appropriate site. They hoped imports of chilled chicken from the mainland
in the next few months would lower market demand for live chickens.
Officials are also considering limiting the sales of live chickens to just
a few markets.
Dr Klaus Stohr, project leader of the World Health Organisation's global
influenza program, said the slaughter of all infected chickens was the only
option. Jiang Weishi, deputy general manager of major importer Guangnan
Hong, remained optimistic about sales and expected a surge in demand for
the Lunar New Year. Spokesmen for supermarket chains Wellcome and ParknShop
said they were monitoring the situation closely to see whether there was a
need to import more frozen chickens. In May last year more than 2 million
birds were slaughtered. Millions of dollars have been paid in compensation.
Date: Wed 06 Feb 2002
From: Catherine M. Torres <TORRESK1@WESTAT.com
Source: South China Morning Post - SCMP, filed 06 Feb 2002 [edited
Bird Flu Virus Identified as H5N1
The virus responsible for the current bird flu outbreak is from the H5N1
family that killed 6 people in 1997. Professor Kennedy Shortridge, the
scientist leading the investigation into the outbreak, made the revelation
to the Post as officials announced that bird flu had spread to 6 more New
Territories farms -- bringing to 9 the number known to be infected -- and
that poultry sales across the SAR would undergo a one-day shutdown on
Friday. A total of 24 farms in Yuen Long have now been quarantined, and
suspected infections were found in 3 more retail poultry markets yesterday.
Professor Shortridge said that although the virus is not exactly the same
as the deadly 1997 flu, it is of the same H5N1 family which had then
mutated and infected humans. Professor Shortridge said: "It is still the
Guangdong goose family [of H5N1 but it is moving away from the Guangdong
virus of 1996," the parent strain of the 1997 strain. "It is being more
versatile or promiscuous [in its mutations," he said. He warned that the
Government might have to "act more strongly" in its anti-bird flu
operations, because the virus had gone unnoticed until 2 days after birds
began dying at a Yuen Long farm last week.
Surveillance for the disease was increased after the SAR's second bird flu
outbreak -- which did not affect humans -- in May last year. Professor
Shortridge said it was as if "the birds are hiding it [the virus and it
cannot be detected". "All we can do is keep track of it. We do not know
what it will do until we really look at its genes and use that as a signal
[to warn us if it is going to keep on reassorting with different viruses."
Reassortment of H5N1 produced the 1997 strain which jumped the species
barrier and infected 18 people, 6 of them fatally. Professor Shortridge
said currently the outbreak was not a human health concern but there was a
need "for very close surveillance of its behavior". Monthly "rest days" for
poultry markets were introduced last year in an effort to reduce contact
between poultry species and prevent H5N1 from evolving into new strains.
However, if further analysis proved the current virus was still evolving,
the Government would have to "rethink the whole anti-bird flu operation,
act more strongly", the professor said.
Secretary for Environment and Food Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying last night
maintained that identification of the virus by gene sequencing was not
complete. "I should add that even if it were H5N1 there are many, many
types of H5N1 viruses and we should not jump to the conclusion that all
H5N1 viruses would affect human beings," Mrs Yam said. Asked if the virus
was spreading, Mrs Yam said: "The facts speak for themselves. Out of
800-odd market stalls being managed by the Food and Environmental Hygiene
Department, we have discovered problems in four stalls [in three markets
today and in the last 2 days there were problems in 2 stores in Tsuen Wan
The current outbreak apparently originated at a Kam Tin farm last week,
where more than 100 000 chickens were culled after about 30 000 died from
bird flu. A second infected farm in Kam Tin was identified on Monday, where
54 000 birds were culled yesterday. The virus was yesterday confirmed at a
third farm in the area, and 23 000 chickens there will be killed today. So
far 6 other newly infected farms - in Kam Tin, Hung Shui Kui and Lau Fau
Shan - are among the 24 under quarantine, but no decision has been made on
culling their 700 000 chickens. Mrs Yam said the quarantined farms would be
under observation for a few days and prevented from sending stock to market.
She said that Friday's shutdown had been advised by the Government's team
of bird flu experts in the hope of stopping further spreading of the
outbreak. The Friday rest day will be in addition to the scheduled February
25 shutdown. Professor Shortridge said: "A rest day will be useful because
we have reached the point now where it is not the 1997 virus, it is not the
2001 virus. It is moving on, it is reassorting with other avian flu
viruses." He said more rest days might be worthwhile.
The 3 retail markets identified yesterday with suspected cases are in Tai
Shing Street, Wong Tai Sin, Yeung Uk Road in Tsuen Wan, and Yan Yi Garden
in Tseung Kwan O.
Approximately 1000 chickens were culled at the 4 affected stalls.
[Byline: Mary Ann Benitez
Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2002
From: Henry V. Huang <email@example.com
Source: BBC News 6 Feb 2002, 08:17 GMT [edited
Hong Kong Seals Off Chicken Farms
The authorities in Hong Kong have quarantined 24 chicken farms in the Kam
Tin area of the rural New Territories in a bid to control the third
outbreak of avian flu in the territory in the last 5 years.
The quarantined farms are in the area of one of 3 farms where the disease
has been confirmed and according to Lily Yam, the Secretary for Environment
and Food, the birds on the new farms had started "showing some problems".
Ms Yam stressed that birds would only be killed if they were infected.
Almost 170 000 chickens have already been slaughtered and for now the 24
farms were just being prevented from supplying chickens to retailers.
In 1997 6 people died when they contracted bird flu, but health officials
have assured Hong Kong residents that the current virus does not affect
Scientists have been carrying out tests to identify the strain of the flu.
Results are expected within a week.
Health officials have stepped up inspection of poultry markets, and the
government has decided to order markets closed for 2 days every month for
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