Bird tested positive for bird flu in Hong Kong

Updated: 2007-06-17 14:05

HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong government closed a pet bird market Sunday after a bird there was found to be carrying the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus strain.

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

The statement said the swab sample was collected June 4 at a pet bird shop in downtown 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.

The detection of the virus comes amid a spate of bird deaths from it in the area.

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, without giving details.

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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