Published Date: 2006-01-20 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza, Eurasia (25): Hong Kong, China
Archive Number: 20060120.0183
AVIAN INFLUENZA, EURASIA (25): HONG KONG, CHINA
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Thu,19 Jan 2006
From: A-Lan Banks <A-Lan.Banks@thomson.com>
Source: Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge, 19 Jan 2006
A dead bird found in Hong Kong last week has tested positive for the deadly
H5N1 strain of bird flu, the government said Thursday [19 Jan 2006].
It is the 1st confirmed case of bird flu in a year in the territory
bordering China, where migratory birds are believed to be spreading the
virus in different provinces, infecting at least 9 people and killing 6 of
them since 2005.
Thomas Sit, assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation,
said it remains unknown how the oriental magpie robin was infected. "The
bird is a resident species in Hong Kong and can be found in the city area,"
Sit said. "How it got infected or where it got the virus is still unknown
at this stage. Similar to cases in other parts of the world, it is
difficult to trace the source of infection."
The robin was found on 10 Jan 2006 by a villager in a rural bush area of
the New Territories, and it is one of the 1500 bird samples taken since
October . Chicken farms within a 5 km radius were all clear of the
virus, Sit said.
He said there is no cause for alarm but still warned the public not to come
into contact with wild birds.
Hong Kong can still be considered a bird flu-free area because according to
the definition of the World Organization for Animal Health [OIE], bird flu
is present in an area only if poultry is infected, he said.
The virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu virus has affected about 150 people
and killed around 80 since 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006
From: Mary Marshall <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: Reuters alertnet, 19 Jan 2006 [edited]
A dead bird found in Hong Kong tested positive for the deadly H5N1 avian
flu virus, but health officials said on Thursday it was an isolated case
and there was no cause for alarm. The species, the oriental magpie robin,
is common in Hong Kong and is also often kept as pets. Officials suggested
the dead bird could have contracted the disease from waterfowl.
"How this wild bird got infected is still unknown. Because migratory water
fowl are natural carriers of H5N1, this bird may have come into contact,"
said Thomas Sit, assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation.
Government officials had inspected chicken farms around the place where the
dead bird was discovered, but found neither unusual death rates among
poultry nor abnormal signs of disease, Sit added.
The virus made its first known jump to humans in Hong Kong in 1997, killing
6 people. The H5N1 virus has killed at least 79 people in 6 countries since
late 2003. The victims normally contract the virus through close contact
with infected birds.
"There's no call for alarm because it's just one bird," said Gail Cockrane,
veterinary director at the Animal Asia Foundation. There's been the
occasional wild bird found dead with H5N1 in Hong Kong," she said, adding
it could have flown into the territory from elsewhere. [see commentary].
Date: Thu, 19 Jan 2006
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: AFP via Todayonline, 19 Jan 2006 [edited]
China's bird flu surveillance methods were, according to this story, again
under the spotlight on Thursday [19 Jan 2006] after it was revealed the
latest human H5N1 fatality occurred in an area where no outbreak among
poultry had been reported.
China was cited as announcing late on Wednesday [18 Jan 2006] that a 35
year old woman from Jianyang city, in the southwestern province of Sichuan,
had become the nation's 9th confirmed human case of bird flu and its 6th
fatality from the disease.
No outbreak of the disease among poultry had been reported in Jianyang
city, with the closest H5N1 outbreak recorded in Sichuan's Dazhu county 245
kilometers (150 miles) away. [Dazhu lies eastern to Jianyang; map at
The Beijing spokesman for the World Health Organization (WHO), Roy Wadia,
was quoted as saying, "We have asked the Ministry of Health to clarify if
the death was linked to the Sichuan outbreak (among birds) reported
earlier. We are waiting to hear back from them. Human cases should not be
the sentinels for animal outbreaks. Ideally we should be able to find the
animal cases first and allow health authorities to scour the region to find
However Wadia said Chinese authorities had acknowledged this problem and
emphasised it was not just confined to China.
[Since 1997, wild birds of the following species have been found infected
with HPAI H5N7 in Hong Kong: peregrine falcon (_Falco peregrinus_), grey
heron (_Ardea cinerea_), Chinese pond heron (_Ardeola bacchus_),
black-headed gull, little egret, greater flamingo, pigeon, tree sparrow
(rather widespread infection rate recorded) and "various waterfowl" (see
The oriental magpie robin, _Copsychus saularis_ ( Order: Passeriformes,
Family: Muscicapidae) is an insectivorous species which is a resident
breeder in tropical southern Asia. It is a commonly found species in Hong
Kong (see <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copsychus_saularis>, which includes
also pictures); according to birdwatchers, usually seen at large urban
parks and the countryside, such as Victoria Peak, Kowloon Park, Mai Po
Marshes, and Tai am Country Park; it is protected by law.
We are not aware of earlier recordings of HPAI H5N1 in the oriental magpie
robin. However, several other passerines have been reportedly been
infected, namely: house finch, jungle crow, black drongo, hill mynah,
red-billed leiothrix, scaly-breasted munia, black-naped oriole, house
sparrow, Eurasian tree-sparrow, Korean magpie, European starling, and zebra
finch (see 20051123.3403). - Mod.AS]