Bird flu 'endemic' in Hong Kong

Bird flu has become endemic in Hong Kong after its recent discovery in both local wild birds and chicken, the territory’s health secretary said today.

“Since different kinds of wild birds and chickens have this virus, we can be quite sure that this virus is endemic in our birds,” York Chow said.

Chow used a Chinese term to describe bird flu as having become part of the general environment in Hong Kong.

“It’s not just Hong Kong. This virus will exist in neighbouring areas, southern China as well as Hong Kong,” he added.

Chow’s comments came after the government announced on Wednesday that both a local chicken brought in from China and a dead crested myna tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus. In the past year, Hong Kong officials also found avian flu in the oriental magpie robin and heron species.

Previously, bird flu killed six people there in 1997, prompting the government to slaughter the entire poultry population of about 1.5 million birds.

But since then, there have been no major outbreaks. Hong Kong has been largely spared from the recent outbreaks that have killed or forced the slaughter of millions of birds across Asia since late 2003.

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