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Preliminary tests found two new H5N1 cases on dead birds

    Preliminary tests on a dead chicken collected in Sha Tau Kok and a dead Crested Myna found in Muk Lun Street Playground in Wong Tai Sin were found to be H5N1 positive.  Further confirmatory tests are being done, a Government spokesman said tonight (February 1).

     As a precaution, the Administration has decided to request all households within 5 kilometres of the index household to surrender their chickens to AFCD.  A team of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has been dispatched this afternoon to collect chickens from the households in the vicinity of the index household at Yuen Tuen Shan, Sha Tau Kok.

     The spokesman said the chickens would be collected and placed at animal management centres for disposal later and the exercise would last for a few days, the spokesman said.

     There were no commercial farms operating within the 5-km parameter, he added.

     As a precautionary measure, the Administration also decided to close all aviaries managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) from tomorrow (February 2) while the Mai Po Nature Reserve will also be closed from tomorrow.  The Ocean Park will also close all of its walk-in aviaries from tomorrow.

     The spokesman added that the LCSD has been keeping close watch on its some 1,500 bird collection in four major parks and found the health status of the birds was healthy.

     The spokesman said the dead chicken was collected by AFCD staff following a report from a villager yesterday (January 31). The villager reported that the chicken, which was brought to him by a Mainland relative a few days earlier, felt sick and died.  It was also reported that another chicken brought from the Mainland by the villagerˇ¦s mother was eaten on January 30.

     The villager did not raise any chicken at his house, the spokesman added.

     The villager, his mother and another relative potentially exposed to the chicken would be put under observation and test at isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital.  Staff of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health will conduct contact tracing and notify their Mainland counterparts.

     The spokesman said preliminary evidence was inconclusive whether the chicken had contacted the virus in the Mainland or in Hong Kong but as a precaution, the Administration would collect all chickens from the vicinity of the index household for disposal to prevent further human contacts with poultry unprotected.

     "We appeal to the nearby households to surrender their chickens as a precaution to protect themselves and their families.

     "We also advise members of the public not to buy chickens from unknown retail outlets or unknown sources," the spokesman said.

     To minimise the risk of an outbreak of H5N1, the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau is preparing legislation to ban chicken rearing in backyards or in domestic households.

     There were two cases of H5N1 found in dead Magpie Robin this year, one of them in Sha Tau Kok.

     The spokesman reminded the public to observe good personal hygiene and avoid close contact with wild birds and live poultry.

Ends/Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Issued at HKT 21:04