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HK Steps up Monitoring After H5N1 Virus Appears

Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) found H5N1 virus in a dead Peregrine Falcon on Wednesday and has stepped up monitoring of bio-security measures at chicken farms and surveillance of wild birds.

AFCD's Assistant Director Lai Ching-wai said that, the presence of H5N1 virus in the Peregrine Falcon poses no immediate threat to public health. The measures taken are aimed to prevent any outbreak of avian influenza in chickens.

The AFCD collected the dead Peregrine Falcon near the Gold Coast residential development in Tuen Mun on January 19 for diagnostic testing and H5N1 virus was tested positive in swab and tissue samples of the Falcon. A histopathology examination is being conducted to establish the cause of death of the bird.

"As there are two chicken farms in Tuen Mun, staff have been deployed to inspect these farms. There was no abnormal mortality and the chickens showed no symptoms of avian influenza," said Lai.

The nearby Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected during the three-day rest period starting on Wednesday afternoon, Lai added.

Lai said that, the AFCD will continue to inspect the chicken farms and to observe wild birds and birds at recreational parks. Staff will be deployed to collect faeces from wild birds for tests during Chinese New Year holiday.

According to the AFCD, the Peregrine Falcon is a large bird found in southern and southeast Asia. The birds rarely reside in or visit Hong Kong. At this time of the year, their population is usually less than 50.

(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2004)

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