The dreaded bird flu seems to be coming back to haunt China, and perhaps the rest of Asia too. Hong Kong conservation authorities announced Saturday that seven dead birds recently found in the territory had been confirmed to be H5N1 positive.
The seven bird carcasses included four chickens, one duck, a grey heron, a peregrine falcon found in different parts of Hong Kong, said a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.
AFCD staff inspected 82 villages in Hong Kong on Saturday and no unauthorized keeping of poultry has been observed.
The spokesman reminded the public to observe good personal hygiene and avoid contact with wild birds or live poultry.
Meantime China's Chief Veterinary had earlier said that the human cases of bird flu did not necessarily mean there would be an outbreak among poultry, in response to the international expert's doubt.
The human cases and the animal cases were not directly interlinked, which was quite common in the world. So far, 405 human cases from 15 countries have been reported, among which many occurred without the outbreak among animals. The infection sources is not clear yet, Yu Kangzhen, Chief Veterinary of the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) told Xinhua in an interview.
The infection rate among high-risk group including those who feed, kill and sell the poultry was not very high as a matter of fact, and no such cases were reported in China, Yu said.
There is still much unchartered water in the bird flu study, which needs more scientific exploration by international researchers, he said.
Eight human cases have been reported in seven provinces in China since January. But no epidemic outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza have been found in the seven provinces, based on the researches of the overall epidemiological situation and investigations still continuing, he told Xinhua.
"The human cases show the virus must be circulating among birds," Vincent Martin, a senior technical advisor on avian flu for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Wednesday, indicating that it was not normal that there had been no confirmation or reports of outbreaks in poultry.
Such doubts intensified as poultry death was reported in Hong Kong, raising fears that the bordering Guangdong Province would be affected.
Yu said the veterinary department in Guangdong had carried out epidemiological inspection and detected no such cases. Poultry in the province were all well-vaccinated as of November 2008, according to the MOA.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the anti-bird flu efforts. Local government are urged to report to the MOA within 24 hours after infection is defected, Yu said.
Hundreds of the monitoring centers are established across the nation to keep close watch on the outbreak of the deadly virus.