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Chicken carcass found in Lantau confirmed positive for H5 virus

     A spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (December 22) that a chicken carcass found in Sha Lo Wan, Lantau, was confirmed to be H5 positive after a series of laboratory tests.

     The carcass was found and collected on December 18 at the seashore of Sha Lo Wan. It was highly decomposed when found.

     The spokesman said there were no poultry farms within three kilometres of where the carcass was found.  AFCD staff have conducted inspections of the nearby villages of Sha Lo Wan Tsuen and Sha Lo Wan San Tsuen. There was no evidence of any backyard poultry being kept there.

     AFCD is concerned about the incident and will continue to monitor the situation. Inspections of the seashore and its vicinity will be stepped up. The department is looking into different possibilities of why the chicken carcass was found at the seashore, including whether it had been washed ashore or dumped.

     The spokesman said a ban on backyard poultry has been in force since 2006. Unauthorised keeping of five kinds of poultry - chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons or quails íV is an offence with a maximum fine of $50,000. Repeat offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $100,000.

     "The public can call 1823 Call Centre for follow up if they come across suspicious sick or dead birds, including carcasses of wild birds and poultry," the spokesman said.

     The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (DH) is contacting relevant parties and has put them under medical surveillance. People are advised to consult their doctors for medical advice promptly if they develop symptoms of influenza.

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

     "In view of this case, AFCD has phoned poultry farmers reminding them to strengthen precautionary and biosecurity measures against avian influenza. Pet bird shop owners, licence holders of pet poultry and racing pigeons have also been reminded to take proper precautions," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman said that the department would conduct frequent inspections of poultry farms, the wholesale market and the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden to ensure that proper precautions against avian influenza have been implemented. The department would continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance, he said.

     The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will continue to be vigilant over imported live poultry as well as live poultry stalls. It will also remind stall operators to maintain good hygiene.

     DH will issue letters to doctors, schools and institutions, reminding the public to stay vigilant and maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent avian influenza.

     AFCD, FEHD, the Customs and Excise Department and the Police will strive to deter the illegal import of poultry and birds into Hong Kong to minimise the risk of avian influenza outbreaks caused by imported poultry and birds that had not gone through inspection and quarantine.

     The spokesman said relevant departments would remain vigilant and continue to strictly implement preventive and control measures against avian influenza.

Ends/Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Issued at HKT 19:05


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