Hong Kong: Oriental Magpie tests positive for H5 bird flu - Outbreak News Today | Outbreak News Today Outbreak News Today
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Hong Kong officials are reporting a case of H5 influenza virus in an oriental magpie robin in Sai Kung, Hong Kong. Currently the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) await confirmatory tests, however precautionary infection control and surveillance measures are already in place and avian handlers have been issued written guidelines on biosecurity barriers to restrict the prevalence of the disease.

Hong Kong/CIA

Hong Kong/CIA

Avian influenza or “bird flu” as the name suggests, is a common cause of respiratory infection in birds caused by influenza virus type A. Although viral infection does not often produce outward symptoms in wild coastal birds, the highly infectious nature of the virus can spread rapidly among domesticated birds such chickens, ducks or turkeys and cause fatalities. The occurrence of avian flu is rare in humans, but strains of notoriety include H5N1 and H7N9 which were first detected from geese and poultry in China, before a reassortment of genetic information enabled the viruses to cross the species barrier.

The earlier isolation of influenza H5N6 from a peregrine falcon in the Shui Kiu district west of Sai Kung, threatens the emergence of another highly pathogenic H5 influenza (HPAI) in China, if any poultry become exposed. In the renewed interest of public health: citizens have been instructed  to refrain from unnecessary contact with birds and/or their excreta and maintain good hand hygiene practices, after any contact. Symptoms of flu-like illness in humans following contact and the discovery of any sick or dead birds must be reported to the designated Department of Health helpline. Deterrents of illegal trade and import of poultry continue to be upheld.

Lavinia Rodney is a qualified microbiologist working in the diagnostics department of a busy UK hospital, alongside studying for the final year of her Masters Degree in Medical Microbiology


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