Hong Kong bird flu risk 'low'

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Hong Kong bird flu risk 'low'

Related tags Avian influenza Influenza Influenza a virus subtype h5n1 Hong kong Livestock Poultry

Hong Kong’s food chief has said that the risk of a local avian influenza (AI) outbreak remains at a “stable and low level”, but warned the poultry industry must remain vigilent.

Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, last week attended a chicken farm in Yuen Long, the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market and the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre to inspect the measures taken to prevent and control AI.

He said that government analysis of scientific data suggested that the “comprehensive preventative and surveillance programme”​ adopted by the Hong Kong government had been successful in controlling the disease. However, he said that there was no room for complacence, with cases in wild birds on the increase.

“Relative to last year, the number of dead wild birds that have tested positive for H5N1 has increased this year. In June this year, the H5N1 virus was detected from a swab sample collected in the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok, reflecting that a certain degree of AI risk still exists in the natural environment. An imported human infection case was recorded this year. We think there is a need to raise our alertness and step up precautionary measures against AI,”​ he said.

Wing-man said that the Hong Kong government would increase surveillance for the winter season, with surprise inspections for poultry farms and more testing for AI at wholesale poultry markets and retail outlets. He added that the government had also decided to introduce a new AI vaccine for chicken farmers.

“The Harbin Veterinary Research Institute has developed a new Re-6 H5N1 AI vaccine (Re-6 vaccine) targeting the prevailing clade of AI virus commonly found in the region. The Re-6 vaccine has just been introduced on the Mainland and successfully registered in Hong Kong. With the agreement from the experts in the Investigation Group on Vaccine Study, we have decided to introduce Re-6 vaccine in local chicken farms,”​ he said.

“We are now actively communicating with the Mainland authority to learn more about the use of Re-6 vaccine on the Mainland and to discuss arrangements for supplying the vaccine to Hong Kong. We hope to introduce the new Re-6 vaccine for use in local chicken farms before the end of this year.”

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