Martin W

Just seen on Reuters (! – shows that haven’t watched or listened to local news today):

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The Hong Kong government said on Wednesday that two dead birds — a wild crested myna and a domestic chicken smuggled in from mainland China — had tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus. … The chicken and myna double the number of dead birds Hong Kong government tests in the past two weeks have shown to have H5N1, a strain of bird flu that has killed 85 people worldwide since late 2003. As a precaution, the government will cull all poultry within five kilometres (3.1 miles) of the smallholding where the chicken died, and also close the city’s walk-in aviaries and a large nature reserve, said Thomas Sit, Acting Assistant Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation. It was unclear where the chicken caught the deadly disease, said Thomas Tsang, Consultant of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health. "We do not know whether the chicken was infected in the mainland or whether it was infected in Hong Kong," he told a news conference. "We can’t really draw any conclusions yet." The bird was smuggled into Hong Kong on January 26 without symptoms and became ill on January 31. The typical incubation period for the disease in birds is two to 10 days, he said. The chicken was brought illegally into Hong Kong ahead of the Lunar New Year period. Despite bird flu worries, the government increased the number of chickens shipped into Hong Kong from mainland China around the January 29 Lunar New Year. It fell ill and died about a half a kilometre (0.3 miles) from the border with China in an area where the government said on Sunday that an Oriental Magpie Robin also died of H5N1. The dead crested myna was found in an urban playground, Tsang said.

Hong Kong says found more H5N1 flu in dead birds[/url] Just found govt press release; the mynah was found in Wong Tai Sin, north Kowloon (not quite in New Territories; over 10km south of where 1st infected magpie robin found, which in turn another 10km south of place on border where 2nd magpie robin and now the smuggled chicken found). http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200602/01/P200602010235.htm Crested mynah not much of a cage bird here; common resident. So, less likely to me that seeing infections in captive [wild] birds. Feeding at places with chickens? – can but guess. Govt to close aviaries and Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve as precaution. Later thought re Wong Tai Sin: there’s big temple there; major place during Chinese New Year celebrations. Just wondering if the mynah found at Wong Tai Sin might have been part of batch released at the temple – for good fortune – over Chinese New Year; googled, and found (example of this) re last governor Chris Patten visiting the temple some years ago: " He helped release 108 birds from nine cages as part of a ”setting free ceremony” to seek blessing for the well-being of the Hong Kong people."

Chicken smuggling by no means uncommon, inc at Shataukok:

At 5.10 am this morning (May 30), a public light bus running between Sha Tau Kok and Sheung Shui was also intercepted at the above Check Post. Customs officers arrested a 72-year-old female passenger; and seized a total of 10 kilograms of chicken and five kilograms of duck, valued at about $340, onboard.

(May 30, 2005) http://www.customs.gov.hk/eng/new_release_20050530_smuggled_pork_e.html

A total of 429 kg of fresh chicken, 37 kg of fresh duck and 18 kg of fresh goose have been seized. Other than fresh meat, two live chickens were seized and a person was arrested at the Sha Tau Kok Control Point yesterday

(February 7, 2005). http://www.customs.gov.hk/eng/new_release_20050208_smuggling_of_poultry_e.html

Enforcement actions on examining imported cargoes and baggage were stepped up. As a result, 211 kg of fresh chicken, 7kg of fresh duck and 3.5kg of fresh goose were seized.

(4Feb05) http://www.customs.gov.hk/eng/new_release_20050204_curb_meat_smuggling_e.html

Following the seizure of pork and chicken made on January 31, Customs officers of the Shek Chung Au Check Post of the Sha Tau Kok Control Point today (February 3) seized four bags of pork and chicken weighing 68 kg onboard a public light bus running between Sha Tau Kok Village and Sheung Shui.