Published Date: 2007-01-08 00:00:00
Subject: PRO/AH> Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (06)
Archive Number: 20070108.0082
AVIAN INFLUENZA, POULTRY VS MIGRATORY BIRDS (06)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 8 Jan 2007
From: Joe Dudley <email@example.com>
Source: English.eastday.com/ShanghaiDaily.com [edited]
HK controls tightened after bird flu verified
Tests have determined that a dead finch discovered last week in Hong
Kong was carrying the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus,
according to the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation
Department. It was Hong Kong's 1st case this winter [2006-2007],
The remains of the bird -- a Scaly-breasted Munia -- was found by
AFCD staff on Leighton Road in Causeway Bay on 31 Dec 2006.
A department spokesman on Saturday [6 Jan 2007] reminded Hong Kong
residents to practice good personal hygiene. "They should avoid
touching wild birds and live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly
if they do come into contact with them," he said.
All pet birds imported from the Chinese mainland must come from
registered farms and be accompanied by a veterinary health
certificate to certify they have been quarantined and tested for
avian flu. The spokesman emphasized that all consignments from the
mainland are subject to health certification and must be inspected no
matter whether they arrive by sea, air or land. A report alleging
there are no controls on imports from the mainland was incorrect, he said.
Mainland officials will inspect the birds before they are sent for
export to Hong Kong.
When the consignment arrives at Hong Kong's import control,
department officers will inspect the birds' health conditions and
verify health certification. Samples will be taken to test for avian flu.
About 38 000 Munia were imported into Hong Kong from the mainland in
2006. The group included White-backed Munia and Scaly-breasted Munia.
The Scaly-breasted Munia is indigenous to Hong Kong.
The department spokesman said all pet-bird traders must obtain a
license and are being regularly inspected by AFCD officers. "We have
stepped up inspection of the Bird Garden from 3 times a week to 5
times a week," he said, referring to the city's main bird market.
"Samples are regularly collected for testing for avian influenza
viruses. Of the 2400 samples that were tested last year , none
[were] positive for avian influenza." The department has also
contacted the Customs and Excise Department to maintain vigorous
surveillance and control on illegal import or smuggling of birds.
Joseph P. Dudley, Ph.D.
4301 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 200
Arlington, VA 22203
[The use of the future tense in the above report -- clearly derived
from an official HK government news release -- suggests that some
aviary doors are being shut after the birds had flown. Let us hope
that the veterinary health certificates are meaningful, but I suspect
I am being optimistic, if not naive. Catching wild birds for domestic
and export markets involves chains of dealers and holding facilities
at the intermediate stages, by definition with the birds stressed and
in high densities, and not infrequently in close contact with
domestic poultry. Thus, it is not unusual to see high mortalities and
the acquisition of poultry infections. And with 38 000 birds being
imported annually by Hong Kong, I doubt whether the cages get more
than a cursory glance. It is clear that HK AFCD is doing its best and
is to be congratulated on its transparency over this event.
If any members wish to see what these birds look like, go to: Scaly
the Dominican Republic).
This is patently a very attractive and photogenic bird, 10-12 cms in
size, normally found in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the
Philippines as well as China and Taiwan. If some 38 000 Munia of
Chinese origin are imported into Hong Kong each year, some will be
going into the international pet bird trade; see above that they have
already reached the Caribbean. So, the rest of us might be wise to
keep an eye open for them. - Mod.MHJ]
Date: 7 Jan 2007
From: Martin Williams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here is a map of Causeway Bay showing Leighton Road:
Leighton Road is near stops on the main tram route from Harcourt
Garden/Central east to North Point and beyond. Also, it is close to a
major MTR station. Causeway Bay is a bustling area, especially for
shopping. The main HK bird market isn't here, but in Kowloon. There
are, however, a few bird shops scattered about. I can't remember
whether there are any in the Causeway Bay area, but it is plausible
that they might be found on side streets. There is a Tin Hau temple a
few hundred meters to the east. I can't recall other temples, but
there are plenty of temples scattered around HK.
I noticed the H5N1-positive munia being among 5 dead birds (all
munias?) picked up on Leighton Road. This is suggestive of being
dropped from a vehicle. The road is lined with commercial buildings,
maybe with a few expensive apartment blocks, not the kind of place
I'd expect to be a transient point for birds.
Last year's  minor flurry of H5N1 in "wild birds" involved
several rather similar chiefly urban cases, at least one of which was
only a block or 2 away from the main bird market, another of which
was very close to a major temple. I figured that any traders with
birds dying of what could have been H5N1 would try to dispose of them
without officials finding out.
Meanwhile, our key reserve for wild birds has yet to record a single
case, despite extensive testing. I am, of course, hoping it stays
this way, that H5N1 is not somehow introduced from farms or markets,
since the densely packed water-bird flocks could be impacted.
For further information, see: