Nov 3, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – A dead gray heron found in Hong Kong had H5N1 avian influenza, according to news reports.
A railway worker in the restricted area of Lok Ma Chau found the heron and turned it over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for testing Nov 1, according to Xinhua, the Chinese government news agency, and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"The gray heron tested positive," a government spokesman told Reuters news service today.
As a precaution, the seven people who had contact with the dead bird were tracked down and found to be in good health, but they will continue to be monitored. Poultry farms within roughly a mile of where the dead heron was found have been inspected, but no unusual deaths or illnesses were found, according to a United Press International report.
H5N1 avian flu was first recognized in humans in Hong Kong in 1997, when 18 people were infected and six died. Experts worry about a resurgence of avian flu in Hong Kong, which is a preferred stop for migratory birds, Reuters reported.
In other developments, a laboratory and surveillance network linking China, Mongolia, North Korea, and South Korea in the fight against avian flu was announced yesterday. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is funding the project with a $400,000 grant, an AFP report said.
The hope is that labs will share research and offer guidance regionally, said Sarah Kahn, a senior FAO official. "We've seen China has done a lot of good work in bird flu research," she told AFP. "We hope it can provide some related staff training for other countries in East Asia."