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Common Magpie tested for H5 virus

    Preliminary testing of a Common Magpie found dead in Mong Kok has indicated a suspected case of H5 avian influenza, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (February 18), adding that further confirmatory tests are being conducted.

     The carcass was collected by AFCD staff at the junction of Boundary Street and Flower Market Path following a public referral on February 17.

     AFCD staff inspected stalls in the Bird Garden in Mong Kok today and found nothing abnormal among the pet birds there for sale.

     ˇ§We have maintained close surveillance of pet bird stalls in the Garden with daily inspections. Collection of swab samples from the stalls will be further increased,ˇ¨ the spokesman said.

     More than 200 swab samples are collected from local pet bird stalls each month to test for avian influenza viruses, including those of the Bird Garden. Test results were all negative.

     As for a suspected case involving a dead Common Magpie found in Sham Shui Po earlier, the spokesman said the bird was confirmed to have H5N1 virus after a series of laboratory tests.

     Members of the public are reminded to observe good personal hygiene. They should avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry and clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them.

Ends/Saturday, February 18, 2006
Issued at HKT 16:30